The Texas Rangers are heading to Arizona next week with expectations that outfielder Nelson Cruz will be with the team.
Cruz’s name surfaced in a report on performance enhancing drugs in a Miami clinic. The report said Cruz bought $4,000 in PEDs. Last week Cruz denied the allegations through his lawyers.
Texas general manager Jon Daniels sees Cruz as his right fielder but others will get a chance just because of the team’s needs.
“Our expectation is Nellie is our right fielder until we hear otherwise,” Daniels said. “There’s nothing fancy about it. That’s just the truth. While there is some chatter out there, we have to at least take a look at other guys. For the sake of injury we’ve got to be prepared there. We’ve got a number of guys coming into camp and we’ve told all of them. Whatever your position was in the minor leagues, you’re a baseball player now. Just be prepared. If you want a chance to make the big league club, versatility is a plus regardless of the investigation.”
Daniels has not talked with Cruz since the investigation. He said he expects Cruz to still play for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. He also expects Cruz to report to camp on time when position players report Feb. 15.
Daniels said the club hasn’t talked with first baseman Mitch Moreland about playing right field this spring. The club has talked with prospect Mike Olt about being prepared to play anywhere as well as Leury Garcia and Jurickson Profar But that has more to do with the fact that the natural third baseman is blocked by Adrian Beltre at the big-league level more than the uncertainly surrounding Cruz.
Profar, who has decided not to play in the World Baseball Classic, appeared to be ticketed for Triple A when the club signed Lance Berkman but that might not be the case for the organization’s top prospect anymore.
“Our stance with Jurickson is he demonstrates that he’s one of the best 25, maybe the best nine, and as an organization we’re comfortable that there’s enough of an opportunity for him to play and make an impact on the team and also continue his progress, that we’re going to be open minded to that,” Daniels said. “I see him long term as a shortstop and middle infielder with high ability there. He may take some balls out there (right field) as well. We’ll see what happens.”