Rangers players were besieged by a large media throng Monday afternoon in the smallish visiting clubhouse at Angel Stadium, and each one said he would gladly welcome the banned Nelson Cruz back to the team for the postseason.
The players were clear: They don't agree with what Cruz did, and it was disappointing to them. He made a mistake and has to pay for it. But they also spoke about the character he has and the kind of person he is.
"We don't agree with what he did, but we've all made mistakes," said David Murphy, who was the first to speak in support of Cruz after he addressed the team before the clubhouse opened to the media.
"We're going to stand behind him and hope that we play well for the rest of the regular season and get him back for the postseason. I can only imagine what he's going through right now. It's got to be a difficult time for him and his family, but we love him and we’re going to continue to support him."
Said Joe Nathan: "It doesn't change what we need to do, and that's go out and win games. We're going to miss him. We understand that, but at the same time we still have job to do. We're playing good baseball right now."
Said Elvis Andrus: "We do want him. He learned his lesson. You learn from your mistake and move on. We know his personality and we know how he is. We've got his back, and we love him and we're going to support him as a family. That's what we do."
Said A.J. Pierzynski: "It sucks for the team because Nellie's a good player. But he made the decision. He knows the consequences. We're all grown men here. We all make decisions, and at the end of the day you have to pay for your decisions, good or bad.
"He did not make excuses. He did not ask for anything. He said he made a mistake, and we've all made mistakes. You just have to live with the consequences. It's a shame that it happened now, but we'll get through this.
"I know after speaking to Nellie and hearing Nellie speak, he was very remorseful. As a person, Nellie's been great to me. As a person, he's one of the best I've ever been around. As a teammate, he was always there, and he just wanted to win. I know that we'll miss him. But you make choices and make mistakes, and you have to live with what happened."
-- Jeff Wilson