We've been waiting for Nelson Cruz to come out and say something — anything of worth — about his 50-game suspension for PED usage that has crippled the Texas Rangers' offense in the middle of a division race and might keep them out of the postseason for the first time since the 2009 season.
Cruz spoke with USA Today's Bob Nightengale in a big article that was published late Sunday night in which he told the paper that he had told the Rangers up until the 11th hour that he was planning to appeal the suspension that came down on Aug. 4. That would have allowed Cruz to finish the season with the Rangers and hit free agency this winter with the looming cloud of a suspension hanging over his head.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels told the paper the decision was solely Cruz's to make, pretty much laying the blame for the Rangers' collapse on Cruz, which is probably pretty dead-on.
"We'd be in better shape if he wasn't suspended," Daniels told the paper. "It's a choice Nelson made."
Or was it?
Cruz said the decision was taken "out of his hands" at the last minute and he ended up taking the 50 games instead of holding off until next season, like he'd initially told the Rangers, who didn't make any proactive moves in advance of a suspension, similar to the way Detroit did with Jhonny Peralta's suspension when they acquired a shortstop days before the suspension was set to go down.
"My first thought was to appeal, and right up to the last day I told [the Rangers] my decision was to appeal," Cruz said. "That was my plan. It's hard to explain it, but at the end it wasn't my decision. It wasn't what I wanted to do. It came out of my hands."
Cruz said it was a last-minute threat by MLB to increase the suspension for anyone who appealed and lost that changed his mind.
It was so hard, because I knew something worse could happen to me," Cruz says. "If I wasn't a free agent, it would have been different. It's a totally different situation. I didn't want to take 100 games next year. It's part of the business."
Cruz is now working out in Arizona with the Rangers' Instructional League team and said he hopes the Rangers will have him back if they make it to the postseason. He'd be eligible for anything after the Sept. 29 game against the Angels, whether it be a play-in game or the AL Wild Card Game.
Daniels said when the suspension came down, it'd be up to the Rangers players on whether Cruz would be brought back, and many of them immediately supported him. With the way the offense is struggling, you'd have to think Cruz will be a shoo-in to DH or maybe even play left field if the Rangers can get into October.
Whatever happens, this saga is far from over as Cruz heads into free agency this winter with a clean slate and something to prove.