Monday, August 5, 2013
What now without Nelson Cruz?
By Todd Wills
What now without Nelson Cruz, who has accepted a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogenesis case?
Rangers manager Ron Washington said Sunday that center fielder Craig Gentry will receive the bulk of the playing time if Cruz is suspended for the rest of the regular season. That would push Leonys Martin to right field.
The Rangers will also make a roster move Monday to replace their All-Star outfielder. The likely candidate to be called up is Triple-A outfielder Joey Butler, who is batting .291 for Round Rock. The 27-year-old Butler is batting .321 with a .532 slugging percentage against left-handed pitching this season.
Butler is in his third season with Triple-A Round Rock and has never broken through to the big leagues. In an interesting aside, Cruz spent five seasons in Triple-A from 2004-08 and was considered a "Class 4A" player before belting 33 home runs for the Rangers in 2009.
Butler could finally get his chance because of a player who was in a similar place in his career at the same age.
The Rangers also could bring up left-handed-hitting Engel Beltre. They are not planning on bringing up Manny Ramirez, who is still with Triple-A Round Rock.
Knowing Cruz is gone for the last 50 games of the regular season could force the Rangers to make a waiver-period trade.
They could look again to the Chicago White Sox for Alex Rios or Adam Dunn, or to the Minnesota Twins and outfielder Josh Willingham.
Willingham is starting a rehab assignment on Monday with Triple-A Rochester, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and is expected to rejoin the Twins on Friday for a doubleheader against the White Sox.