Rangers open-minded to Cruz's return for playoffs

The Texas Rangers now will try to make the playoffs without slugger Nelson Cruz.

If that happens, then we'll find out whether Cruz is on the playoff roster.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said Monday on a conference call following the announcement of Cruz's 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis case that the club is open-minded to the slugger being on the postseason roster.

That is, if it's acceptable to the 24 players Cruz let down by getting suspended for what he said was an "error in judgment" for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

"We really want to see how this plays out, most importantly with his teammates," Daniels said. "Not giving specifics, but there have been other scenarios where because of how it was handled, the player was not welcomed back first and foremost with the clubhouse. That’s something we want to see.

"Assuming that there’s not any other information that we’re not yet aware of and if his teammates welcome him back and Nellie handles this well, which I expect he probably will, then we’re open to it."

A report by USA Today on Monday said the Rangers were "blindsided by the news" that Cruz had decided not to appeal his suspension, which likely would have enabled him to play the rest of the season while his case went through the arbitration process.

Daniels disputed that Monday. He said he was contacted by Cruz's new agent, Adam Katz, on Sunday night, who informed him his client was accepting the suspension. The Rangers did believe it was a possibility Cruz would appeal his suspension out of loyalty to the ballclub and his teammates, team CEO Nolan Ryan said Monday.

"We knew this was out there," Daniels said. "There’s not a lot we could do about it. I’m not sure had he made up his mind any sooner, it would’ve impacted much anyhow."

The Rangers' plan is to replace Cruz from within the organization. They will call up outfielders Joey Butler and Engel Beltre to give them a right-handed and left-handed bat in a platoon situation. Recently acquired Adam Rosales was designated for assignment.

The club will explore the post-trade deadline market, Daniels said, as it does every season. Deals are more difficult to make due to the pool of players shrinking because of no-trade clauses and the complication of getting players to pass through waivers.

The Rangers did pick up outfielder Jeff Francoeur in a trade in August 2010.

"Obviously, not every club is looking to talk about every player so you're dealing with a much smaller pool of players who are even potentially available so it's more challenging," Daniels said.

Ryan, who also was on the conference call, expressed disappointment in Cruz's involvement with the Biogenesis clinic.

"I pretty much have the same feeling that Jon has that we’re disappointed that he violated the drug policy and that he’s now having to deal with that," Ryan said.

Cruz said in a statement that his error in judgment was a result of losing 40 pounds because of a gastrointestinal infection before the 2012 season. He was treated in the Dominican Republic while playing winter ball, then went to Miami for more treatment.

It was at that point that he became involved in the Biogenesis clinic.

"I should have handled the situation differently, and my illness was no excuse," Cruz said.

"What he said about the weight loss he had and the intestinal virus, or whatever it was he was dealing with, it was my understanding that it actually happened," Ryan said. "He had substantial weight loss, and it was an ongoing issue for him that offseason. To my knowledge, that is a correct statement."

The Rangers have not decided whether Cruz will work out at the team facility during his suspension. If he does, he can be at Rangers Ballpark only until the gates open for that day's game.

"Nelson will just fly back here to Dallas, and we’ll revisit that here in a couple days once the dust settles," Daniels said.

As for bringing him back for the playoffs or bringing him back next year -- Cruz is a free agent after the season -- that remains to be seen, Daniels said.

Cruz made it clear in his statement that he wants to return and looks forward to it. He is a well-liked player in the Rangers' clubhouse, so maybe this isn't it for Cruz and the Rangers.

"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," Cruz said.