Rangers going to spring expecting Nelson Cruz in right
The Texas Rangers will go to spring training expecting Nelson Cruz to be their everyday right fielder.
Cruz was among several players named in a story last week by an alternative newspaper in Miami, alleging they used banned performance-enhancing drugs. Major League Baseball is investigating and has asked the Miami News Times for records it obtained for the story.
Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Tuesday that he doesn't have any information about when MLB's investigation might be completed or when a decision could be made about any possible suspension for Cruz.
"Our expectation is that Nellie is our right fielder. Until we hear otherwise, nothing fancy about it," Daniels said during a conference call to discuss spring training. "That's just the truth."
The Miami News Times reported last week that New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, a three-time American League MVP, Cruz and other players bought human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing substances during 2009-12 from Biogenesis of America LLC. The anti-aging clinic in the Miami area is now closed.
Cruz hasn't spoken publicly since the report, but a law firm representing him said in a statement last week that they were aware of certain allegations and inferences against the slugger.
"To the extent these allegations and inferences refer to Nelson, they are denied," the statement from Farrell & Reisinger said.
The Rangers anticipate Cruz will report to spring training on time. The full squad reporting date to Surprise, Ariz., is Feb. 15.
Daniels said he was told by Cruz's agent that the outfielder is still committed to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.
While the Rangers are planning on Cruz being in right field, Daniels said the team will plan for the chance that he won't be, though not only because of the allegations that could lead to a 50-game suspension.
"While there's some chatter out there, we'll take a look at some other guys. Forgetting about the situation in Miami, but for the sake of injury, we've got to be prepared there," Daniels said. "We've got a number of guys coming to camp and we told all of them, whatever your position was in the minor leagues, you're a baseball player now. Whether you're a middle infielder, you may play in the corner or if you're a third baseman in the case of Mike Olt, you might play some outfield."
That includes touted shortstop prospect Jurickson Profar, who could make the major league roster as a 20-year-old without a starting spot.
Another possibility in right could first baseman Mitch Moreland, who has started 32 games there and played 12 more during his three seasons.
Cruz hit .260 last season with 24 home runs and 90 RBIs while playing a career-high 159 games. A .268 career hitter in 695 games - all but eight with Texas where he was traded from Milwaukee in 2006 - he is going into the last season of his contract with the Rangers.