SURPRISE, Ariz. – Nelson Cruz showed up at spring training Friday sounding like a player who wanted to tell his side of the story.
That’s going to have to wait.
Cruz’s name came up in the Miami New Times report last month as one of the major leaguers who allegedly purchased performance enhancing drugs from a Miami clinic last year. Major League Baseball is investigating the story, which leaves Cruz unable to discuss it.
“I want to be honest but because this matter is under investigation by Major League Baseball I cannot make any comments about it at this time,” Cruz said. “As soon as this is done I will address you again and tell you everything I know. I want to speak. I want to talk.”
Cruz said he has not been contacted by MLB but would be willing to meet with investigators. Neither Cruz nor the Rangers have any idea when that will happen.
Cruz and the Rangers now must try and prepare for the season despite not knowing what the outcome of the investigation will be. That’s made it trying for Cruz, who can be a free agent following the season, to prepare.
“It’s been rough, you know,” said Cruz, who still plans to play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. “I’ve got to thank the fans and my family. They support me. It makes everything easier for me. It’s right there. Everyone is talking about it. Everywhere I go people ask me about it.”
Cruz was in Texas when the report was released and was notified by his agent about the story a day before it went public. Cruz said he was shocked when his name was in the story and it was depressing.
The Rangers will prepare for the season and normal with the expectations that Cruz will be in right field. Texas has dealt with spring training distractions in the past, including Ron Washington’s cocaine admission and Josh Hamilton’s alcohol relapse.
The club went to the playoffs following those issues and the plan is the same now.
“Distractions are a part of the game of baseball,” Washington said. “We’re pretty good at funneling our focus where it needs to be.”
The Washington and Hamilton admissions had nothing to do with the product the Rangers will put on the field. The possibility of losing Cruz for 50 games if the allegations prove true does.
But for now, Cruz and the club must wait.
“The reality is there’s not much anyone can say or do right now,” Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. “There’s an open investigation at this point and we’re kind of in wait-and-see mode. But we’re going to support Nellie in the process. We’re going to prepare for the year. We expect he’s going to be our right fielder. If something comes up that impacts that, we’ll deal with it at that point.”
While the process plays itself out, Cruz will do everything he can to get ready for the season.
“The team has given me support,” Cruz said. “I’ve got to go out there and try to play my game. There are always going to be comments and stuff like that but I’ve got to be myself.”
Cruz is trying to focus on the positives. Unlike last offseason when he was slowed by a stomach virus, Cruz is coming into camp healthy. He played some winter ball in preparation for the WBC as well as the regular season. He’s put on weight and worked on strengthening his problematic legs.
“I don’t worry at all,” said Cruz. “I know it’s going to come good. Hopefully it’s done right and as quick as possible.”