The day of reckoning has arrived for Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz, who acknowledged Sunday morning that Major League Baseball will tell him if he is suspended for his ties to the Biogenesis scandal.
Cruz is facing a suspension that could be as long as 50 games. He can appeal it and thus be allowed to continue playing until a three-person arbitration panel rules on the case, or he can begin serving the penalty immediately.
As of Sunday morning, when he was greeted by a handful of reporters, he hadn’t decided which route he would take.
The Rangers have 50 regular-season games remaining.
Cruz was scheduled to accompany the Rangers on their trip Sunday evening to Southern California ahead of a three-game series at Anaheim. He hopes to play Monday night but he also said that he’s worried about what will go down.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, but it’s supposed to happen tomorrow,” Cruz said Sunday. “It’s not just about myself. It’s about the team. Definitely I’m concerned. I haven’t decided what I’m going to do about anything.”
A baseball source said that Cruz’s representatives have spoken with MLB in an effort to get a suspension reduced from 50 games. A two-time All-Star, Cruz has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, and that is the strength of his case.
But he is mentioned in records kept by the founder of the Biogenesis of America clinic, Tony Bosch, which were first reported by the Miami New Times on Jan. 31. Bosch has cooperated with MLB during its investigation.
The collective bargaining agreement has expanded the authority of Commissioner Bud Selig to suspend players if there is just cause to do so.
The Rangers, meanwhile, have not been kept informed on the progress of the investigation, and club officials have said that they are working largely with information from media reports.
They’ve seen the writing on the wall and have made plans in case Cruz is lost for an extended stretch.
“We’ll be somewhat reactive to whatever does go down,” assistant general manager Thad Levine said. “By function of all the innuendo, we’ve certainly had to come up with some sort of Plans B, C and D in the event that something does shake out.”
A right-handed hitter is likely to replace Cruz, the team leader in home runs and RBIs. Triple A outfielders Joey Butler and Aaron Cunningham both hit from the right side, but Levine said that a left-handed bat could also be selected.
Round Rock played over the weekend in Sacramento, so getting a player to Anaheim by Monday night shouldn’t be difficult. Double A outfielder Joe Benson, a righty hitter on the 40-man roster, is also a candidate.
The dominoes should start falling at 11 a.m. Monday. Cruz said that he was still pondering what to do if suspended. Appealing the suspension would keep him in the lineup, but as a free agent after the season, his value will be higher if he has served his suspension.
Cruz seems to be hanging in there mentally despite the lingering controversy.
“I’m good,” he said. “I don’t know how I’ve been doing it, but I’ve been doing good.”