Cruz returns from ban, hopes to be back with Rangers
Slugger receives nice ovation before first at-bat, grounds out to end Texas' season
ARLINGTON -- Nelson Cruz received a standing ovation in his first at-bat, but the fans headed for the exits after his final plate appearance. The outfielder recorded the final out to conclude the Rangers' season without a Wild Card berth in Monday night's 5-2 loss to the Rays in what could possibly be his final game with Texas.
"I think overall we battled," Cruz said. "The young guys have developed pretty well. We have some young guys that hopefully can develop more and grow up. I think the future looks pretty bright for the Rangers."
If this was the way Cruz goes out as a Ranger, it was on an 0-for-4 performance with a strikeout after missing 50 games for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. The All-Star outfielder lacked the bat speed he carried earlier in the season. Cruz batted sixth as the designated hitter, and he hit a rope to first base that was caught by James Loney in his first at-bat in the second inning. Cruz went down on 10 pitches in his other three at-bats, including two on just two pitches.
While he trained at the club's Dominican facility and gained at-bats in the Arizona instructional league, it didn't compare to facing a three-time All-Star in David Price, who allowed two runs in a complete game.
"It's tough," Cruz said. "We had a good chance to win this game. It's just one game. We battled, the whole team was doing their job but we couldn't find ways to get runs. [Price] was dealing today."
Cruz would like to return to the Rangers, who brought him back to play in Game 163 despite his suspension, but he said it's not his call. The club acquired Alex Rios from the White Sox in a waiver deal to play right field in Cruz's absence, and Rios is signed through next season. Cruz said the club's ability to produce young talented players like Craig Gentry, Leonys Martin and Martin Perez, who all started in Monday's tiebreaker game, makes a return to Arlington attractive.
"I dealt with my mistake," Cruz said. "I apologized to everybody, but I just want to put everything behind and move forward. Hopefully, next year I'm with the team and can get it done. I want to be back if it happens. If not, I have to move forward. But I don't have control over that. It's a business.
"I cannot predict my future. I know what's going on with the Rangers, and it looks good with the talent that we have. It looks pretty bright."
Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.