What we understood would likely happen has now become official: Nelson Cruz has been suspended for 50 games. As there are 50 games left in the season, this makes him ineligible the rest of the way, although he would be eligible to play in the playoffs.
Here's the statement released by Cruz:
“I have been notified by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball that I have been suspended for 50 games for violation of the Joint Drug Agreement,” Cruz said in a statement. “I have decided to accept this suspension and not exercise my rights under the Basic Agreement to appeal. From November, 2011 to January, 2012, I was seriously ill with a gastrointestinal infection, helicobacter pylori, which went undiagnosed for over a month. By the time I was properly diagnosed and treated, I had lost 40 pounds. Just weeks before I was to report to spring training in 2012, I was unsure whether I would be physically able to play. Faced with this situation, I made an error in judgment that I deeply regret, and I accept full responsibility for that error. I should have handled the situation differently, and my illness was no excuse. I am thankful for the unwavering support of my family, friends, and teammates during this difficult time. 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.”
T.R. Sullivan's story in February, 2012, about Cruz's contract extension has some items in it that, in retrospect, are troubling:
Shortly after the World Series, he went back to the Dominican Republic and was hit by a stomach bacterial infection the doctors couldn't identify. In January, he went to Miami for further diagnosis and found not only a cure but also a place to do his offseason workouts.
Cruz has spent the last month working out at Bommarito Performance, a Miami cross-training fitness center where many athletes work out, including teammate Mike Napoli and many college football players who are preparing for the NFL combine. Cruz, who dropped 16 pounds from the virus, said his new workout center has made a big difference and he feels he is better prepared to avoid the leg injuries that have plagued him the past three seasons.
"Everything is great," Cruz said on a conference call to announce his new contract. "I feel like my legs are stronger and more flexible. It is a huge difference than in the past."
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He has been searching for a new offseason workout regimen that would keep his legs healthy for an entire season and his agent suggested the place in Miami. He weighs 224 pounds right now because of the weight he lost as a result of the virus. He normally reports to Spring Training weighing 240 pounds but wants to come in around 230 and be lighter this year than in the past.