It was a lifetime ago, but there was a day when Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz denied allegations that he was part of a giant pack of pro jocks who took "things," possibly potent anti-aging pills, from a South Beach place that also specialized in home runs.
In late January, shortly after a report surfaced from the Miami New Times that Cruz and a load of other big leaguers took PEDs, the Rangers outfielder issued this statement through his attorneys:
"We are aware of certain allegations and inferences. To the extent these allegations and inferences refer to Nelson, they are denied."
By "denied" they meant ... "He took 'em, we're just hoping there is no paper trail."
Biogenesis turned over lots of documents that indicated otherwise, and much to my personal chagrin Mr. Cruz was busted. On Monday, after many months of "investigating", Cruz accepted a 50-game suspension from MLB for apparently using PEDs. He will serve the suspension immediately and not appeal the ruling.
Personally, I was way wrong on this. I wrote on June 24 that this whole thing was going to take too long for Cruz to serve a suspension this season. I was convinced the lawyers in this way drag it out and Cruz would have to serve his suspension next season.
He could have fought it, but for a prospective free agent he had to sit now regardless of how it hurts his team's chances in a pennant race. He is his own business, and he has to protect himself.
Having to sit out 50 games to start the 2014 season was not going to improve his price tag, and perhaps he can return and make an immediate impact in a playoff series to give his marketability a boost.
Who replaces his production in this lineup is not on this roster.
If the Rangers do not make the playoffs, Sunday's win in Oakland is likely Cruz's last game with the Rangers. What a bad way to finish an otherwise meaningful, impactful and fun eight -years with the team.
UPDATE: Nelson Cruz issued the following statement at 2 p.m. CT. You've been warned. Try not to laugh too hard at this one ...
"I have been notified by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball that I have been suspended for 50 games for violation of the Joint Drug Agreement. I have decided to accept this suspension and not exercise my rights under the Basic Agreement to appeal. From November, 2011 to January, 2012, I was seriously ill with a gastrointestinal infection, helicobacter pylori, which went undiagnosed for over a month. By the time I was properly diagnosed and treated, I had lost 40 pounds. Just weeks before I was to report to spring training in 2012, I was unsure whether I would be physically able to play. Faced with this situation, I made an error in judgment that I deeply regret, and I accept full responsibility for that error. I should have handled the situation differently, and my illness was no excuse. I am thankful for the unwavering support of my family, friends, and teammates during this difficult time. I look forward to regaining the trust and respect of the Rangers organization, my teammates, and the great Rangers’ fans, and I am grateful for the opportunity to rejoin the team for the playoffs."
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