ANAHEIM, California — Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz was suspended 50 games without pay effective immediately by Major League Baseball Monday for his interaction with a Miami anti-aging clinic named Biogenesis, which sold performance-enhancing drugs.
Cruz has the right to appeal through the MLB Players' Union, but he will choose not to.
The Dominican slugger addressed his teammates in the clubhouse at Angel Stadium of Anaheim before Monday night's game. He told them he was sorry for the decision he made to use banned drugs.
Rangers manager Ron Washington said he cried as Cruz spoke to the team. "There's no crying in baseball, but he's one of my guys," Washington said.
Several teammates told News 8 they will back Cruz fully while missing his presence in the lineup. Cruz has hit a team-leading 27 home runs and has 76 RBI this season, including a home run Sunday in a win against the division-leading Oakland A's. This season, Cruz has a .269 batting average, a tick better than his .268 career average.
"Everyone knows it's going to hurt, but there's no way to replace him," 2nd baseman Ian Kinsler said.
Starting pitcher Derek Holland said he and others will welcome Cruz back at the end of his suspension.
"I heard there was somebody blogging about it saying we were angry; that's not true," Holland said. "We're going to go ahead and shut that one down right away. We love the guy, so there's no reason for people trying to put rumors out saying we were p***** off and angry at him."
"As a person, Nellie's one of the best I've ever been around," said Rangers catcher A.J. Pierzynski. "As a teammate he was always there, and he just wanted to win ... we'll miss him."
"We know where his heart is; we know what kind of guy he is," outfielder Craig Gentry added. "It's unfortunate that he can't be a part of this team right now, but like I said, we're going to ahve to move on."
"I have decided to accept this suspension and not exercise my rights under the Basic Agreement to appeal," Cruz said in a statement.
Cruz explained that from November 2011 to January 2012 he was sick with a gastrointestinal infection which caused him to lose 40 pounds, which led to him using PEDs.
"Just weeks before I was to report to spring training in 2012, I was unsure whether I would be physically able to play," Cruz said. "Faced with this situation, I made an error in judgment that I deeply regret, and I accept full responsibility for that error."
The suspension has been looming since a report in January in the Miami New Times that linked Cruz and several other MLB players, including former Ranger Alex Rodriguez, to Biogenesis.
The New Times report claimed the chief of the clinic, Anthony Bosch, 49, wrote in his 2012 client sheet he sold $4,000 worth of product to Cruz, who he nicknamed "Mohamad."
Bosch has cooperated with MLB investigators since the report came out.
The slugger, who is a free agent after this season, will serve the entirety of the suspension this season. There are 50 games remaining on the Rangers' regular-season schedule, so Cruz could return in time for a potential post-season run.
"I am thankful for the unwavering support of my family, friends, and teammates during this difficult time," he said in the statement. "I look forward to regaining the trust and respect of the Rangers organization, my teammates, and the great Rangers’ fans, and I am grateful for the opportunity to rejoin the team for the playoffs."
Not appealing also allows Cruz to maximize the value of his next contract to his future team by avoiding missing any games next season.
Cruz hadn't previously been linked to performance-enhancing drugs in his career. The standard suspension for a first offense of the MLB's Joint Drug Agreement is 50 games.
"I should have handled the situation differently, and my illness was no excuse," Cruz said.
"The Texas Rangers are disappointed that Nelson Cruz has violated the terms of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program resulting in his suspension," the team said in a statement. "The Rangers’ organization fully supports the MLB program and its efforts to eliminate performance-enhancing substances from our game."
Cruz was one of 12 players to receive a 50-game ban stemming from the Biogenesis case. Three other players - Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Melky Cabrera, Oakland Athletics pitcher Bartolo Colon and Padres catcher Yasmani Grandal - who all served 50-game suspensions last year will not face any additional discipline.
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was suspended 65 games late last month for his involvement in the scandal, and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was suspended for the remainder of this season and entirety of the 2014 season for his role.
Rodriguez is the only player involved expected to appeal. He would need to file his appeal by Thursday, and if he does, Rodriguez would remain eligible to play until a decision by the arbitrator.
The Taylor Hooton Foundation, based in North Texas, cut ties with him after MLB suspended the Yankee slugger.
"It's a sad day for us." Foundation Director Don Hooton said. "While Alex did a good job for us with kids, we had to terminate our relationship under the circumstances."
The Rangers begin a three-game series with the Los Angeles Angels Monday at 9:05 p.m.
WFAA Sports' Joe Trahan reported from Anaheim