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Nelson Cruz says not appealing suspension “wasn’t my decision”

Sep 23, 2013, 10:47 AM EDT

Nelson Cruz AP

Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz said during an interview with Bob Nightengale of USA Today that his choice not to appeal a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drugs was “out of my hands” and “wasn’t my decision”:

My first thought was to appeal, and right up to the last day I told [the Rangers] my decision was to appeal. That was my plan. It’s hard to explain it, but at the end it wasn’t my decision. It wasn’t what I wanted to do. It came out of my hands. … It was so hard, because I knew something worse could happen to me. If I wasn’t a free agent, it would have been different. It’s a totally different situation.

According to Nightengale if Cruz had appealed–likely delaying the penalty until 2014 and allowing him to finish the season in the Rangers’ lineup–MLB was threatening to increase the suspension from 50 games to 100 games. And obviously hitting the open market with a 100-game ban looming would crush his free agent value. Instead he immediately began serving the 50-game suspension and is eligible to return for the playoffs, except the Rangers have fallen apart down the stretch by going 5-15 in their last 20 games to fall out of the Wild Card lead.

General manager Jon Daniels told Nightengale that “we’d be in better shape if he wasn’t suspended” and “it’s a choice Nelson made.” Which of course doesn’t quite vibe with Cruz’s statement that “at the end it wasn’t my decision” and “it came out of my hands.”

  1. jm91rs - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:52 AM

    Possibly he was convinced that heading to free agency with even a 50 game ban hanging over his head was a bad move financially? I’d think if he genuinely did nothing wrong he would not have given in no matter what. The appeal in most cases is just a technicality, unless you’re Ryan Braun.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:57 AM

      Yeah it’s much more likely the looming FA was the reason, because unless he did something else that MLB could have got him on, there’s zero chance they could have got a 100 game penalty per the JDA.

      • jwbiii - Sep 23, 2013 at 12:24 PM

        And what of Alex Rodriguez? Under the section of the JDA that MLB is using, G.2, lengths of suspensions are not specified. Hence 50 for Cruz and “however many it takes to get the Yankees under the salary cap” for Rodriguez.

    • raysfan1 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:03 AM

      I’m assuming MLB has him dead to rights on a first offense PED usage, and thus he deserved the 50-game suspension. However, if MLB did in fact use the threat of a longer suspension to essentially blackmail him into not appealing as is his right under the JDA and CBA, then he should absolutely file a grievance.

      • righthandofjustice - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:07 PM

        Fifty game suspense is only applicable to violation of category (B) substances (steroids) under the JDA. First violation to category (C) substances (rehab drugs, stimulants, etc) carries no suspension whatsoever.

      • raysfan1 - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:24 PM

        True. I was presuming the issue was evidence of steroid use from Biogenesis.

      • righthandofjustice - Sep 23, 2013 at 6:10 PM

        There was no “evidence” from the Biogenesis presented to the public whatsoever. Nobody can say Cruz violated the JDA due to possession or abuse of steroids.

        As a matter of fact, from Cruz’s letter, he stated he made a “mistake” to try to get back to shape faster after an illness that caused him to lose 40 pounds. Can some medical people tell me what a patient of severe stomach problems need more to get back to the game? Steroid or rehab drugs?

        Cruz has always been a big slugging guy in his career and it was noticeable he lost a lot of weight in 2012 which was also his worst year in term of slugging. If he took steroids in 2012 then that drug certainly didn’t do the trick.

      • raysfan1 - Sep 23, 2013 at 8:20 PM

        Once again, I said I’m assuming evidence exists, and that only because otherwise he should have fought tooth and nail.

        BTW, I’m a physician. First, to fully answer your question as to what medications get prescribed for stomach ailments, I would have to know what his actual diagnosis (if any) was. I have never prescribed HGH to anyone without a congenital deficiency because it does not help anyone with normal levels. If he had a problem that could potentially involve bleeding (like an ulcer) I would not prescribe an anti-inflammatory steroid. I could see a narcotic analgesic in some cases. Regardless, a legit prescription (not possible from Tony Bosch but possible from his father) would not be any sort of violation of the JDA, and again should have been fought aggressively.

        I have made zero assertions to any actual knowledge. I’ve been very careful to couch my statements as assumptions that MLB must have some evidence of a violation due to PEDs. I wish he and others had appealed to force MLB to present its evidence. Instead, the arbitrator will see only that which applies to Rodriguez. Regardless, if MLB has been blackmailing players into ceding their rights, then I hope Cruz and others file grievances and make them pay–which was my point to begin with.

  2. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:57 AM

    I can’t wait to hear about the evidence MLB has, allowing them to circumvent the penalty provisions in the CBA/JDA. It seems like the threat of 100 game suspensions loomed large, but MLB does not have any obvious right to threaten such a thing.

    Win or Lose, it seems the ARod arbitration will go a long way toward determining Bud’s legacy as commissioner.

    • chill1184 - Sep 23, 2013 at 10:58 AM

      Like Bud’s legacy isn’t spotty to begin with?

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:03 AM

        It absolutely is. But this whole Biogenesis thing could either make him look like a tough guy working to clean things up, or a tyrant bullying the hell out of the players and union. I am already fairly convinced the second choice is true. Who consorts with drug kingpins in order to catch end users? If ARod team can prove that Bud’s evidence in this whole thing is bunk, it would certainly cement the matter.

    • cur68 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:21 AM

      I wonder if ARod doesn’t end up being a hero in all of this. If his legal team can show that Selig et al used suspect evidence, blackmail, and attempted to circumvent the agreed upon rules, then suspended players like Peralta and Cruz might just have legal grounds to sue Bud’s ass for lost wages etc.

      Knowing what the evidence is would be the first step in all of this.

      • jm91rs - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:52 AM

        You have to know by now that A-rod will never be the hero. He could literally be a hero by saving people’s lives in some random emergency and he would somehow still be the villain to most.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 23, 2013 at 12:07 PM

        He could literally be a hero by saving people’s lives in some random emergency and he would somehow still be the villain to most.

        He did save a girl’s life in Boston a few years back, pulled her back from stepping in front of a truck. But yeah, people still think he’s an awful person.

      • cur68 - Sep 23, 2013 at 12:10 PM

        Christ. If Saint Jeter had done THAT there’s be a statue commemorating the event outside Yankee Stadium and the kid would have got a gift basket too, I expect.

        ARod does it? No one even knows about it.

      • ctony1216 - Sep 23, 2013 at 12:25 PM

        Actually, it was an 8-year-old boy who A-Rod saved, but I never heard about that until you just mentioned it. It’s really an amazing story. Here’s a link for anyone who’s interested:

        Title: “No error on Newbury St.: A-Rod saves boy from truck”
        link: http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2005/04/15/no_error_on_newbury_st_a_rod_saves_boy_from_truck/

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 23, 2013 at 12:36 PM

        Actually, it was an 8-year-old boy who A-Rod saved

        Wtf am I thinking of then? I’ll just google Alex Rodriguez does something to a young girl in boston. Wonder what results I’ll get?

        (good lord people dont do this)

  3. thebigtim2012 - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:09 AM

    Cruz may have been speaking figuratively. Meaning the prospect of heading into next season with a 50 or 100 game suspension took the matter out of his hands, it became a no brainer.

    • jm91rs - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:53 AM

      That’s my thought exactly. The decision was made for him in a sense that it would be foolish to make any other decision.

  4. zacksdad - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:25 AM

    So it was not his decision, it was not the Ranger’s decision, then whose was it?

    • gammagammahey - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:41 AM

      Agent maybe.

      • dluxxx - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:54 AM

        That’s my take. Agent said, “you’d be an idiot to not serve this immediatly and keep your value up in the offseason.” He probably laid out all the scenarios including him having either a 50 or 100 game suspension looming as he went into free agency and how that would affect him financially. In a game that is a business, it just makes business sense to look out for the bottom line when you have a finite amount of time to reap the benefits of your prime playing years.

    • moogro - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:48 AM

      His agent’s.

  5. rathipon - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:33 AM

    Something doesn’t sit right with MLB disciplining players in the same way that prosecutors work out plea bargains…

    • IdahoMariner - Sep 23, 2013 at 2:23 PM

      actually, this is not at all how prosecutors do plea negotiations, so cruz’s story doesn’t sit right with me. either mlb gets to be prosecutor AND sentencing judge, or cruz is leaving something out. Like “I wanted to appeal so I could play the rest of the season (and look like a great teammate) but realized if I did, i would lose, and then i would sit out the first 50 games of next season (less money) and possibly 100.” it’s that 100 games that bugs me. if cruz didn’t take the 50 games as part of a deal with mlb, then what is that 100 hanging over his head? it’s only there, in the way that cruz describes, if mlb is prosecutor and sentencing judge.

      at least in my experience (over the last 18 years) when you are charged with a crime, a prosecutor might engage your attorney in plea negotiations, designed to get a conviction without having to go to the time and expense of trial. (the system is set up for this, if every case went to trial, the whole system would grind to a halt almost immediately). the prosecutor often offers to agree to a sentence that is less than what he or she thinks the judge would give you after trial. if you and your attorney agree you should take the deal, then the judge still has to approve the agreement (which usually happens if both attorneys know how to do their jobs). if the judge doesn’t approve it — or if you didn’t agree to the plea deal — you still have your right to trial, and, if convicted, you take your chances with the sentence the judge decides on after viewing all the evidence the state has against you, and all the evidence you have put on that mitigates your crime. but there is no “if you don’t take the deal you definitely get this punishment.” it’s “if you don’t take the deal, you have your right to trial and you missed out on possibly having a lesser sentence than the one the judge might give you. but you might also not even get convicted.” there are risks to both approaches. but you give up the possibility of acquittal for the certainty of a shorter sentence, and you do it based on your evaluation of the strength of the state’s case against you (or your insistence that you are innocent).

      the way they talk about the mlb process, you get a suspension, which you either accept or you appeal. cruz describes being threatened with a 100-game suspension if he loses his appeal. i guess the “appeal” is akin to a trial in the criminal context, but it sure sounds like mlb gets to be the prosecutor and the sentencing judge. and that is what doesn’t sit right with me – it would be like a prosecutor saying ” take the deal or I will give you twice as long in prison.” prosecutors don’t determine sentences… but in mlb, it looks like mlb gets to charge and sentence players. which strikes me as something that the players’ union would not have agreed to.

      craig, where are you? after all this, i realize i need to do research. sheesh. usually you do it for me.

    • IdahoMariner - Sep 23, 2013 at 2:37 PM

      actually now that i go and read the history, cruz took a deal offer. so he made the decision – likely with the input of his agent, attorneys and his family, to figure out that he would likely lose any appeal (i read this as “hearing which considered evidence supporting and denying his ped use”) and would automatically be subject to a 100 game suspension.

      so, yes, it is like a plea negotiation, which doesn’t offend me in the least, so long as he made an educated decision with some support. i don’t like putting the prosecutors i know in the same sentence with bud selig, because, oy, bud selig sucks, but a prosecutor can save taxpayers time and money and keep the system moving using well-considered plea negotiations, ones that represented persons can take advantage of or not, depending on the evidence and their personal considerations. mlb can offer a shorter suspension to just be done and be seen like ti is doing something, and cruz – whp surely can afford not just competent but among the bet in representation to help him evaluate mlb’s evidence and the i pact of appeal and/or either suspension on his career and finances – can decide to take the smaller suspension so he can get back on the market at the right time.

      which i totally would do if i were cruz and i thought mlb had enough evidence against me to establish the violation. it would be foolish not to.

      the latest comments are just him still wanting to be seen as an unselfish teammate, as though some unseen person made him act in his own behalf. just own it, nelson, and move on. it’s the only way the story has a chance of dying.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 23, 2013 at 3:41 PM

        (i read this as “hearing which considered evidence supporting and denying his ped use”) and would automatically be subject to a 100 game suspension.

        Repeating myself from above, outside of Cruz doing anything other than taking PEDs, there’s zero chance that MLB could have suspended him for more than 50 games for a first offense. It’s in the bylaws:
        Cruz can argue that the Joint Drug Agreement explicitly precludes MLB from punishing for a second offense before giving notice of a first. Specifically, Section 7 of the Joint Drug Agreement states that a player can’t be disciplined for a second or third violation of the policy that occurred before he received notice of his first violation.

        http://www.grantland.com/blog/the-triangle/post/_/id/70997/defending-a-rod-breaking-down-the-rodriguez-appeal

        It was 50 games, or zero. There’s nothing, that we know of, that MLB could have got Cruz on that would have made it longer than 50 games.

      • crackersnap - Sep 23, 2013 at 7:54 PM

        @church:

        I thought we had been reading here in earlier entries over the last couple of months that MLB was double-dipping into the same event to come up with “multiple instances” so that they could twist the language into threatening the 100 games? And MLBPA was rolling on this because too many of their membership was done protecting offenders…

        Offense #1: ordering a banned substance.
        Offense #2: consuming a banned substance.

  6. mustbechris - Sep 23, 2013 at 11:51 AM

    No, it’s a choice he made. He chose to take a banned substance.

  7. earpaniac - Sep 23, 2013 at 1:28 PM

    Probably not the wisest decision, but if it was me and I was convinced I was completely innocent, I’d appeal no matter what.

    • byjiminy - Sep 23, 2013 at 2:13 PM

      That’s easy to say when there’s no money stake. So let me ask you this. Would $50 million change your mind? Really?

      My gut instinct would be screw it, I’m fighting this. But my actual behavior calls me a liar. I’ve swallowed my tongue and accepted any number of indignities in my current job. Who hasn’t? And believe me, I’m not making anywhere near that kind of money. If someone said, I’ll give you ten million dollars but you have to let people call you a drug user in public, I’d do it.

      I mean, my first thought is, screw that, I don’t need the money. But let’s say the offer was, you can tell your boss off and never have to work a day in your life again? Because that’s just one of the many, many pleasures $50 million will buy you.

      I’d probably do it for the offer of, you can walk into any restaurant in the world, and order anything you want, for free, for the rest of your life. Well guess what, $50 million buys you that, too. And never having to work again.

      Or how about, you could send a limo, a bottle of $300 champagne, some $300 flowers, and a 10-pound box of Godiva chocolate, with a live a capella harmony group, to ask someone out. That too.

      Oh, and season tickets to every baseball team in America, with a free luxury hotel room and plane ticket whenever you actually wanted to use them. That’s thrown in too.

      Or how about this. You could feed and give medical care to literally thousands of impoverished people, single-handedly support your favorite local theater group, and buy thousands of acres of vulnerable habitat to preserve endangered species.

      All in exchange for not appealing a drug penalty you may or may not deserve.

      Yeah, I think I could live with that.

      • IdahoMariner - Sep 23, 2013 at 2:45 PM

        yes, yes, yes. anyone who says otherwise is either absolutely dependent on their clean reputation for some other reason, or is lying.

        because mother teresa might’ve considered letting us think she got so much accomplished because she was juiced, if it meant she got 50 mil to help the poor in calcutta.

        who cares what other people think? you can do great things with that kind of cash. not that cruz will or won’t do great stuff with it. but i like to think i would, and i would totally let them think i juiced in exchange for financial security and getting to actually change other people’s lives.

    • righthandofjustice - Sep 23, 2013 at 3:39 PM

      What if MLB told him if he didn’t agree not to appeal they would make sure Cruz (and other who agreed to the suspension) would not get a huge offer from the richest teams?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 23, 2013 at 3:43 PM

        Then MLB would be engaging in collusion, which is against federal law and far worse than taking PEDs.

  8. bh192012 - Sep 23, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    I thought in this process the arbiter determined guilt and punishment, so I’m not sure I understand the concept of MLB threatening a 100 game ban? Either an arbiter would agree that 100 game bans made sense within the JDA or not. Basically there are only 2 possible states if it gets to arbitration. Nelson is innocent and arbiter agree’s, or the arbiter finds Nelson guilty of something and sets the punishment. Sure MLB could ask for a 1 thousand year ban, but the arbiter is the only party with any power there I thought. Nelson chose the 50 game ban now instead of later, because he must have calculated that he had little chance to win and either didn’t want to go into his next contract with 50 or 100 days banned. Basically his choice was 50 now or 50-100 later because he believed an arbiter would decide against him.

  9. righthandofjustice - Sep 23, 2013 at 3:29 PM

    We don’t know the complete truth at this point but I believe Nelson Cruz violated the JDA. However, I think he might have taken a just a stimulant to speed up his rehab process and should have received no suspension instead of 50 games.

    You can tell from his open letter that “he was sorry” but “MLB got it all wrong”. He was “sorry” because he violated the rule but he was also enraged because he might have been wrongfully suspended for the wrong violation.

    In the interview with USA Today, Cruz said he was compelled to forfeit his rights to appeal under the CBA. This Biogenesis saga will not end with the final ruling on A-Rod’s suspension, whether by MLB or the Fed. I see many players implicated in this scandal may have a very strong case against MLB in a legal battle.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Sep 23, 2013 at 3:44 PM

      However, I think he might have taken a just a stimulant to speed up his rehab process and should have received no suspension instead of 50 games.

      Amphetamines are against the JDA as well. That’s not a reason to prevent any punishment. He also wasn’t “compelled” to forfeit his rights to appeal under the CBA either. That’s completely wrong.

      • righthandofjustice - Sep 23, 2013 at 3:55 PM

        There are different kinds of controlled substances under the CBA and penalties are different for different kinds of violations. For taking some rehab drugs or stimulants the first violation would only result in no suspension with the name of the violator withheld from the public.

        How are you so sure he wasn’t compelled to accepting the agreement? Are you working or related to MLB?

  10. righthandofjustice - Sep 23, 2013 at 5:23 PM

    General manager Jon Daniels told Nightengale that “we’d be in better shape if he wasn’t suspended” and “it’s a choice Nelson made.” Which of course doesn’t quite vibe with Cruz’s statement that “at the end it wasn’t my decision” and “it came out of my hands.”

    Please note that Cruz didn’t indicate it was the Ranger’s “decision” he took the suspension. He could mean somebody more powerful than his team forced him to make such a decision. In that case, he didn’t point the finger at the Rangers.

    • skids003 - Sep 24, 2013 at 12:34 PM

      That force was his agent.

  11. artisan3m - Sep 23, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    Make no mistake ~ owners and general managers will remain in bed with the commissioner. Players come and go ~ some go quicker than others. But the commish can have a long memory. Besides, players and teams are in a bit of a quasi-adversarial relationship anyway over contracts, salaries, trades, etc. It wouldn’t surprise me if Daniels’ “recollection” of events didn’t exactly jibe with Nellie’s. As it has turned out, Cruz is a winner for he can’t be blamed for or included in the monumental slump the Rangers’s September has produced. He serves his suspension, retains his value, and hooks up with a new team next year ~ probably for more money and a lot less embarrassment.

  12. peddealer - Sep 23, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    Jesus!

    You guys should be awarded something for all the time spent commenting! Sheesh!

    Somebody’s writing a damn book in the comments section…

    On a serious note, I think this site is awesome and it is obvious many of you have a relationship with each other that helps enhance the game and our knowledge of it…

    Look at my comment length…
    What a hypocrite I am

  13. crackersnap - Sep 24, 2013 at 12:28 AM

    A fine example of personal responsibility, right there.

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