ARLINGTON, Texas -- Should the Texas Rangers extend their season beyond Sunday, they could add a big bat to their lineup just in time for the postseason -- one players are eager to welcome back aboard.
Nelson Cruz's 50-game suspension for his connection to the Biogenesis clinic ends after Sunday's final pitch. He's been working out and playing in instructional league games in Arizona, hoping for a chance to rejoin his big league teammates.
"We're waiting to unveil our thoughts on that," assistant general manager Thad Levine said when asked if Cruz would return.
But if a quick tour around parts of the clubhouse on Saturday is any indication, Cruz is likely to be welcomed back if the time comes.
"He made a mistake and he accepted it like a man, like a human being," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "We know he did something wrong. He paid for that and he wants to start brand new. We love him. He's part of our family and we need him in the lineup. We'll welcome him and he knows it."
Several teammates echoed Andrus' sentiments after the Rangers kept their hopes alive for a possible play-in game on Monday or even a spot in the AL wild-card game on Wednesday.
"He's a darn good player and he's a darn good person," said utility man Jeff Baker, who added that he isn't worried about any rust with Cruz. "It's about competing. And if it's one game, Nellie's timing will be there. I think I can speak for the guys in the room that we want him back."
Hitting coach Dave Magadan is getting good reports about Cruz's bat speed and approach as he works and waits for a chance to play again this season.
"Why wouldn't we welcome him back?" left-hander Derek Holland said. "He's done a lot of great things for us. He's a part of this team. That's my opinion. This is a family, and he's like a big brother to us."
Andrus added that Cruz could help a lineup, even as a DH fresh off not playing in games for nearly two months.
"That would be a really, really great add for us," Andrus said. "We know he's hitting the ball. He's a bat you have to use. We know the way he gets hot every time we get to the postseason. He's a big bat for us. Mentally, he'll be ready."