MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan is reporting that the Rangers will activate outfielder Nelson Cruz in time for Monday’s Game 163 against the Rays. Cruz finished serving his 50-game suspension handed down by commissioner Bud Selig for his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal.
Cruz left with an .841 OPS in 452 trips to the plate, ranking among the more productive outfielders in the league. Had he not been suspended, he almost certainly would have hit another seven home runs to surpass his career-high of 33. The Rangers acquired Alex Rios from the White Sox on August 9 to fill his shoes. Though Rios didn’t supply as much power, he added a speed dimension, stealing 16 bases in 17 attempts between his Rangers debut and the end of Sunday’s action.
Rangers president of baseball operations and general manager Jon Daniels did not say if Cruz would be in the lineup, stating that the decision is up to manager Ron Washington.
Meanwhile, Cruz is excited to be back. From Sullivan’s article:
“We’re playing really good baseball, and the guys are excited,” Cruz said. “I’m excited, and I’m happy to be back and be with my teammates and play the game that I love.”
Earlier, Craig wrote about how Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig is back in manager Dave Roberts’ doghouse once again. Puig didn’t slide into second base when he was caught stealing to end Saturday’s game, which irked Roberts.
Puig didn’t earn himself any brownie points on Monday as he was late to a team workout and was benched as a result, MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick reports. Roberts said, “That was a decision he made, not me.” Roberts added that he was disappointed in Puig, though he did note that the former All-Star’s behavior has been improved for most of the season.
Puig, 26, has had a solid season, batting .259/.339/.474 with 26 home runs, 70 RBI, 66 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 554 plate appearances. While he hasn’t provided value on the same level as Justin Turner or Corey Seager, he’s been a valuable part of the lineup which makes this drama all the more unfortunate with just a week and a half before the start of the NLDS.
Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that the Pirates were granted an exemption by Major League Baseball and the players’ union which will allow infielder Jung Ho Kang to participate in the Dominican Winter League without being removed from the restricted list.
Kang, 30, has been denied a visa by the Department of State as a result of his third DUI in South Korea last September. Kang was also under investigation in 2015 for alleged sexual assault.
Kang is under contract through the end of 2018 and the Pirates have a club option for the 2019 season as well, so it makes sense they would try to get him into some type of baseball action ahead of next season. The infielder has hit .273/.355/.483 in 837 plate appearances across two seasons in the majors. As Brink notes, Kang has already arrived to the Dominican Republic and will work out with his team, Aguilas Cibaenas, ahead of the start of the season on October 20.