Nelson Cruz really screwed the Texas Rangers over, and there's no nicer way to put that.
Leading the team in home runs when he was suspended for 50 games for PED use, his absence put the Rangers' offense in some serious doldrums when he missed the final 50 games of the regular season.
With that said, everyone deserves a second chance and if you believe in them, it's time to give Cruz one.
Cruz has handled this whole ordeal well. He's been apologetic and contrite throughout the entire situation. He's kept in touch with his teammates, reaching out to them on Twitter after big wins and you can tell he's been aching for his teammates to get past Game 162 to give him a chance to redeem himself to Rangers fans, and most importantly, his teammates.
On Monday night, he'll almost certainly get his chance.
Cruz is eligible to return to the Rangers after serving his 50 games. MLB's plan all along was to time the suspensions so they wouldn't affect the postseason, and now Cruz has his chance at redemption.
"First of all, I completely understand that thought process,” Rangers GM Jon Daniels told reporters when asked about possible negative reaction. "But the system that's in place, he served his penalty of 50 games. We did as well."
Cruz has been seeing Instructional League pitching for the past few weeks, basically amounting to Single-A and Double-A pitching. So is he ready for a win-or-go-home game on Monday night against reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price? Probably not. But what if he is?
If anyone's ready, based on history alone, it'd probably be Cruz.
Over his career, Cruz is 9-for-21 against Price with three home runs. He's murdered Price.
So yeah, it makes pretty good sense to have Cruz in the lineup, if for no other reason than just to give the Rangers another feared bat, even if his timing might not be 100 percent on. All along, Daniels said part of the decision would be based on his teammates' thoughts on his return, those same teammates he abandoned back in early-August.
But that was never a question.
"I said that on the first day he was suspended," Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler told CBSSports.com.
"We can't wait to see him back," Adrian Beltre added.
And the 40,000-plus at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington Monday night will feel the same way, especially if he can be his old Cruz-versus-Price self.