The funny thing about Nelson Cruz‘s 50-game suspension is that he’ll actually be playing, and wearing a Texas Rangers uniform during it.
Back on August 5, MLB banished the Texas slugger for 50 games for using performance-enhancing drugs during the winter of 2011-12. Cruz recently rejoined the Rangers in Arlington, Texas and he even took batting practice with the team before the game against the Minnesota Twins on Friday night, as you can see above.
He told reporters “Hopefully, the team will go to the playoffs and … give me a chance to help out.”
The Rangers are willing to bring back the right fielder that has launched 27 home runs this season, for the playoffs when his suspension is up. Prior to meeting back up with the Rangers in Arlington, Cruz had been down in the Dominican Republic. John Daniels, the club’s GM, told the Dallas Morning News that Cruz had bee working out at the team’s complex in Boca Chica, a beach town on the southern shore of the island.
He’s scheduled to join up with the Rangers’ Instructional League program in Surprise, Arizona next week. To be fair, the Instructional League, or “Instructs” as it’s commonly referred to, is about as far from the big leagues as professional baseball gets.
The purpose of Instructs is to provide players with the chance to catch up a little on lost time with some extra game action. It’s meant for players who were injured or who signed late after the draft, not for suspended Big Leaguers who are trying to stay sharp for a return to the playoffs.
The idea that Cruz will be playing baseball and wearing a Ranger’ cap while doing so, just doesn’t make sense. This is not a critique of the Rangers either. The organization is merely utilizing the enormous loophole that Bud Selig apparently worked into the definition of PED suspensions.
It’s not about the Rangers and the Oakland Athletics, who are battling for the AL West title. It’s not about the Tampa Bay Rays, the Baltimore Orioles, the New York Yankees (who, of course, have their own “suspended” slugger) or any other team they might be fighting with for a playoff spot, or who they could ultimately face in the postseason.
The fact is, if a player can still play during a suspension that would seem to fundamentally undercut the whole purpose of banning them in the first place. It might be time for Selig to reconsider the league’s definition of “suspensions.”