Rangers reinstated and back in Rangers lineup
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Nelson Cruz has completed his 50-game drug suspension and is back in the lineup for the Texas Rangers.
The All-Star slugger was reinstated from the restricted list by the Rangers on Monday. He was in the lineup batting sixth as the designated hitter for their AL tiebreaker game against Tampa Bay.
It was the first major league game for Cruz since Aug. 4, the day before his suspension that followed Major League Baseball's investigation of the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic, which was accused of distributing banned performance-enhancing drugs.
Cruz was among 14 players disciplined by MLB this year in the Biogenesis case. Only Alex Rodriguez appealed his suspension.
Texas designated outfielder Joey Butler for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster.
The Rangers won their last seven scheduled games of the regular season, and needed every one of those victories to force the first wild-card tiebreaker in the majors since 2007.
A 163rd regular-season game provided a chance for the return of Cruz. Before flying to Texas on Saturday night, he had been playing games against mostly minor leaguers and prospects in the Arizona Instructional League.
"I've been working every day and I just wanted to make sure I'm ready for this moment,'' Cruz said Sunday, after the team announced he would be activated for the tiebreaker game. "I'm happy to be back, be with my teammates and play the game that I love.''
Cruz finished 9 for 27 with five doubles, a homer and nine RBIs in eight games in Arizona.
General manager Jon Daniels said Cruz kept himself ready to play "as good as you can'' in that situation. Daniels said the at-bats got batter during that time and that Cruz was swinging the bat well.
"All along, we knew we're probably a better club with him available,'' Daniels said.
The Rangers were 29-21 without Cruz, who hit .269 with 27 homers and 76 RBIs in 108 games before his suspension.