ARLINGTON, Texas — Nelson Cruz, who completed his 50-game suspension for PED use, will make his return to the Texas lineup tonight as the designated hitter in the American League tiebreaker game.
Cruz will bat sixth for the Rangers against Tampa Bay left-hander David Price.
To make room on the 40-man roster for Cruz, the Rangers designated outfielder Joey Butler for assignment.
Cruz was batting .269 with 27 homers and 76 RBI before he was suspended. He played in eight games in the instructional league in Arizona to try and get his timing down. Cruz batted .333 in those games with a homer, five doubles and eight RBI.
He’s eager to try and help his team advance to the playoffs for a fourth-consecutive year.
“I feel good,” he said. “I feel really confident. I’ve been out a long time preparing for this so I should be ready. I’m going to enjoy this moment. Happy to be back. Happy to be with my teammates. It’s a blessing to see the reception they gave me when I came back to the clubhouse.”
Texas manager Ron Washington said the decision to put Cruz in the lineup was a no brainer.
“Having him in that lineup extends it and it’s another threat,” Washington said. “I asked him how he felt and he said he’s ready to go. I know Nelson Cruz. I’ve been in the game long enough to know that I’m not expecting to see the Nellie we had before he left but if you throw something in the wrong spot, I expect to jump up and down.”
Washington has had several opportunities to jump up and down during Cruz at-bats against Tampa Bay starter David Price. Cruz is a .429 lifetime hitter against Price with three home runs and five RBI.