Free-agent slugger Nelson Cruz was in Colorado on a ski vacation, his first time hitting the slopes, when his phone rang with the news that he won’t be returning to the Texas Rangers.
Talk about ruining a good time.
“Kind of,” Cruz said Monday night from his home in the Dominican Republic.
Jon Daniels was on the other end of the line Dec. 21, informing Cruz that the Rangers would sign Shin-Soo Choo and wouldn’t have the funds remaining that Cruz is seeking this off-season.
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He’s still looking for a home in 2014, and says there are four teams that are showing interest in providing him one. But leaving the Rangers won’t be easy.
“I’m OK. I understand,” Cruz said. “This is the only place I have played. I had like five at-bats with the Brewers. This is the only thing I know in the big leagues.”
The Rangers waited patiently for Cruz to blossom into a two-time All-Star after acquiring him in 2006 from Milwaukee. He finally did in 2008, when a late-season call-up was the beginning of four straight seasons as their starting right fielder.
His time will be noted for his postseason power surges in 2010 and 2011, the David Freese two-out liner sneaking over his head for a game-tying triple with the Rangers a strike away from winning the 2011 World Series, and a 50-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs last season.
But he returned for the tie-breaking game 163 to a standing ovation, and his popularity with the fans was evident two weeks ago at an autograph signing in southwest Fort Worth.
“The first World Series. The first time we clinched in Tampa. The time we beat the Yankees,” said Cruz, who holds Rangers franchise records for postseason homers (14) and RBIs (27). “There are a lot of memories. They’re all good.”
Cruz didn’t specify the four teams showing interest. He turned down the Rangers’ one-year qualifying offer, so the team that signs him will have to surrender draft-pick compensation.
He’s still looking, but understands the business of baseball is the reason he won’t be returning to the Rangers.
“It doesn’t matter what you do,” Cruz said. “If they think they want to make a change, they’re going to do it.”