Cruz likely to make roster if Texas reaches playoffs
Star outfielder's 50-game ban ends at conclusion of regular season
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are undecided if suspended outfielder Nelson Cruz would be on their roster if they reach the postseason, but it will likely be an easy -- if not automatic -- decision in his favor when the regular season is over.
As the Rangers go down the stretch, it's easy to see that Cruz could fit on this team as its left fielder or designated hitter. The Rangers faced left-handed pitcher Francisco Liriano on Tuesday night and Joey Butler was their designated hitter. Craig Gentry was in left field.
Texas' alternatives haven't been attractive lately. David Murphy is hitting .171 in his last 15 games and no longer starts against left-handers. Lance Berkman, a switch-hitter, is active off the disabled list, but still limited by inflammation in his left hip and doesn't even take batting practice from the right side.
"He can't hit on the right side," manager Ron Washington said. "It's not even an option."
Jurickson Profar is also a switch-hitter, but is hitting .194 against left-handers as opposed to .258 against right-handers.
"He's been successful as a switch-hitter, but it's tough to keep it going from both sides at the Major League level," Washington said.
Cruz was suspended for the remainder of the regular season Aug. 5 for violating the Major League Joint Drug Treatment and Prevention Policy. But he is eligible for the playoffs and is working out at the Rangers' Spring Training facility in Surprise, Ariz., to stay ready. He is eligible to play in Instructional League games.
Ironically, his suspension might work in his favor when it comes to decisions about the postseason roster. While competing candidates for roster spots are getting limited playing time at the big league level, Cruz will be getting plenty of at-bats against live pitching in Arizona. He won't be facing Major League pitchers, but he will be able to work on his timing.
General manager Jon Daniels said among the factors that will determine if Cruz is activated for the playoffs is how he is accepted by his teammates. But Rangers players have made it clear they would welcome him back. Cruz was hitting .269 with 27 home runs and 76 RBIs at the time of the suspension.
Byrd believes Cruz can rebound from suspension
ARLINGTON -- Marlon Byrd last talked to Nelson Cruz during the All-Star break, but he can relate to Cruz's situation since their last conversation.
Cruz is serving a 50-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Byrd went through the same situation last year, but as a free agent. He was just released from the Red Sox after he was designated for assignment when Byrd served his 50 games last year.
Byrd signed a Minor League deal at the start of this season with the Mets and made the Opening Day roster. He hit .285 with 21 home runs and 71 RBIs in 117 games before he was traded to the Pirates on Aug. 27. He is batting .326 (14-43) with the Pirates in 12 games.
"With me going through it last year, there's going to be boos," Byrd said. "There's going to be people chanting, 'Steroids,' and all this stuff. 'Juice guy,' whatever, it doesn't matter. It's what your family thinks, and [Cruz is] part of that Texas Rangers family."
Byrd thinks Cruz is capable of making that same comeback if the Rangers make the playoffs and put the outfielder on their postseason roster. They were teammates with Texas in 2007-09.
"It is a no-brainer to bring him back," Byrd said. "Nelson is part of that Texas Rangers run that they've made the last couple years, and they're never going to forget that.
"Nelson's a superstar. It's not going to take much for him. He needs to take some at-bats and get back in the swing of things, and he'll be fine. I don't think anybody has any questions on the numbers he can put up coming back and helping the Texas Rangers."
Adduci recovered from strained shoulder muscle
ARLINGTON -- Rangers outfielder Jim Adduci was available Tuesday after having to come out of Monday's game against the Pirates with a strained muscle in his right shoulder.
Adduci, a left-handed hitter, wasn't in the lineup Tuesday because the Pirates had left-hander Francisco Liriano on the mound. But he was available as a pinch-hitter and will most likely be back in the starting lineup Wednesday against right-hander A.J. Burnett.
Adduci struck out in his second at-bat Monday against Pirates starter Gerrit Cole and felt a spasm in his right shoulder. He then felt his right arm go numb.
"It was something I never experienced before," Adduci said. "It kind of caught me by surprise. I tried to squeeze my hand and get the feeling back, but it wouldn't come back. It was kind of scary. It just made my arm numb."
The numbness eventually went away. Adduci underwent some tests and nothing serious was found. He had no problems taking batting practice Tuesday.
Ogando in 'pen; Tepesch slated to start Tuesday
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers are leaning toward keeping Nick Tepesch in the rotation and having him start Tuesday against the Rays. Alexi Ogando remains an option, but manager Ron Washington admitted the club is leaning toward Tepesch.
"As of right now it's Tepesch, but that could change," Washington said.
Both pitched Sunday against the Angels. Tepesch started and threw 63 pitches over 3 1/3 innings. Ogando was the winning pitcher in relief while throwing 23 pitches over 1 1/3 innings.
Ogando was back in the bullpen Tuesday night. Tepesch is not going to work out of the bullpen right now.
"He's going to prepare for a start," Washington said. "We have enough arms in the bullpen."
• Washington on using veteran Adam Rosales as a pinch-runner in the ninth inning Monday instead of rookie Engel Beltre: "Rosales has more experience in those situations. Rosales has been in enough of those situations to know what it's about."
• The Rangers still expect Yu Darvish to pitch Saturday without any problems after he experienced some cramping in the seventh inning during Monday's 1-0 loss to the Pirates.
• Monday's game was the third 1-0 loss for Darvish this season. It's the most for a Major League pitcher since Orel Hershiser had four 1-0 losses with the Dodgers in 1989. The only other American League pitcher with three 1-0 losses in a season since the designated hitter was introduced was Dave McNally with the Orioles in 1973.
• Darvish is one of four Rangers pitchers with at least three 1-0 losses during their entire time with the organization. Ferguson Jenkins had five, while Charlie Hough and Gaylord Perry each had three.
• Elvis Andrus had two steals Monday, giving him 162 for his career. That passes Bump Wills for second most in Rangers history. Ian Kinsler, who passed Wills earlier this season, has 170.
• The Rangers did not have an extra-base hit in Monday's game for the 14th time this season. That's the most since 16 such games in 1992. Monday's game was also the third in club history in which they stole at least three bases and did not score a run. It happened Sept. 29, 1983, and Oct. 4, 1972.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. Master Tesfatsion is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.