Suspended Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz is heading home Wednesday to the Dominican Republic, where he will work out before returning to Texas later this month.
General manager Jon Daniels said Cruz will spend about 12 days in the Dominican, where the All-Star right fielder has a home gym and the team has a complex he will visit.
Cruz was suspended for the final 50 games of the regular season in Major League Baseball’s investigation into a Florida clinic accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs. He was one of 13 MLB players disciplined last week.
Daniels said Tuesday that there has been no decision made about Cruz playing in the postseason if the AL West-leading Rangers make the playoffs for the fourth season in a row.
”Our goal right now is just to, as it always is, keep all of our options open,” Daniels said. ”So we want to do what we can to keep him in as good as shape as possible, and as good of baseball shape as possible. First of all, we’ve got to get there.”
Cruz, the 2011 AL championship series MVP who is eligible for free agency after this season, still leads the Rangers with 27 home runs and 76 RBIs more than a week after playing his last game.
Daniels said many different factors would determine if Cruz would be an option for the Rangers if they make the playoffs.
”What kind of shape he’s in, how’s the team playing, how’s the team gelling, how our other guys are performing,” Daniels said. ”Those are the things we’ll have to consider. We’re not there yet.”
Since all of the team’s minor league clubs will be done playing by the end of September, the only real option to simulate any sort of real game experience for Cruz then will probably be the instructional league.
The Rangers last week acquired Alex Rios, working out a deal with the Chicago White Sox after first putting in a waiver claim on the right fielder.
On the day MLB announced the suspensions, Cruz apologized to his teammates in the clubhouse before a game at the Los Angeles Angels.
Cruz hasn’t spoken publicly since then, but said in a statement that a gastrointestinal infection he had from November 2011 through January 2012 wasn’t properly diagnosed. He said he lost 40 pounds before getting proper treatment and just weeks before spring training in 2012 ”made an error in judgment that I deeply regret.” He provided no other specifics, including what he might have taken.
Daniels said he spoke with Cruz on Tuesday, but that the only subject of their conversation was about the upcoming plan.
Cruz has been in touch with the Rangers conditioning staff. Daniels said they will determine the next steps for Cruz when he gets back from his desired trip home.
”We’re comfortable knowing between our facility and his own facility he can get the work in down there,” Daniels said. ”He’s pretty much good with whatever we ask him to do.”