ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 31: Nelson Cruz #17 of the Texas Rangers hits a solo homerun against the Los Angeles Angels at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on July 31, 2013 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz has been handed a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, Commissioner Bud Selig said Monday.
Cruz had been tied to Biogenesis of America, a closed Florida anti-aging clinic, that was accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
The Rangers slugger released the following statement Monday:
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.
Cruz, who becomes a free agent at the end of the regular season, could have, as he said in the statement above, appealed the ruling and continued to play for the Rangers this season, but instead has opted to begin serving the sentence immediately -- which should improve his marketability before next season should he not sign a new contract with the Rangers.
On Monday, after Commissioner Bud Selig announced those players who would be suspended, the Texas Rangers released the following statement:
The Texas Rangers are disappointed that Nelson Cruz has violated the terms of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program resulting in his suspension. The Rangers’ organization fully supports the MLB program and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing substances from our game. Per the protocol outlined in Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, the Rangers will have no further comment.”
The punishment removes Cruz from the active roster for the remaining 50 games of the regular season. If the Rangers make the postseason, Cruz would then be eligible to return to the active roster. After Sunday's win against the A's, Cruz had hit .269 with 27 homers and 76 RBIs for the season.
Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine said Sunday that Texas has made plans just in case Cruz is penalized.
Eleven other players, Jhonny Peralta; Everth Cabrera; Francisco Cervelli; Fernando Martinez; Antonio Bastardo; Jesus Montero; Jordany Valdespin; Cesar Puello; Sergio Escalona; Fautino De Los Santos and Jordan Norberto also accepted drug suspensions Monday. The lone holdout was Alex Rodriguez, who is appealing his punishment after being notified he was suspended through the 2014 season.
Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun accepted a 65-game suspension two weeks ago, bringing to 14 the number of players -- including Rodriguez -- facing discipline in the probe, which was sparked when the Miami New Times published documents obtained from former Biogenesis associate Porter Fisher that linked several players to the clinic.