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Tuesday, January 29, 2013
Updated: January 30, 2:07 PM ET
Rangers dealing with tough offseason

By Jean-Jacques Taylor
ESPNDallas.com

The Texas Rangers' offseason has been an epic failure based on what they told us they wanted to accomplish.

Nelson Cruz
A report linking Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz to PEDs rocked an already wobbly Rangers offseason.

Well, it became a lot worse on Tuesday, when a report in the Miami New Times linked right fielder Nelson Cruz to Biogenesis of America, a Miami-based anti-aging company that has been called the BALCO of the East Coast.

BALCO, you remember, is the company slugger Barry Bonds, track superstar Marion Jones and others made famous thanks to Victor Conte's performance-enhancing drugs that seemed to make mind-blowing performances routine.

Yikes.

Cruz, an all-around good guy nicknamed "Boomstick," is now one of the central characters in a PED scandal. Just so you know, Major League Baseball can impose a 50-game suspension regardless of whether a player has ever flunked a drug test. It just needs to prove that the player has possessed PEDs.

Lance Armstrong has taught us all that passing a million drug tests means nothing in the world of PEDs. The users are always ahead of the testers.

The Rangers should expect this to get worse before it gets better. They should already be putting their contingency plan in place, so if Cruz gets popped for 50 games -- the punishment for a first-time offense of the league's PED policy -- they can handle the suspension as smoothly as possible.

The Rangers and MLB each released statements Tuesday that shed little light on the scandal in general and Cruz in particular.

Don't expect to hear from Cruz for a while.

This is particularly bad news for the Rangers, who've had a forgettable offseason. They failed to sign Zack Greinke in free agency or trade for Justin Upton.

The team wanted to re-sign center fielder Josh Hamilton -- an awful idea, considering he quit on the club three times in the last three weeks of the season. Still, general manager Jon Daniels seemed genuinely surprised the day Hamilton's deal went down.

Then Ian Kinsler decided he didn't want to move to first base after all, which meant the Rangers suddenly had no room in the infield for Jurickson Profar, who's only considered one of the top prospects in baseball.

And Elvis Andrus, who has two years left on his deal, doesn't seem real interested in giving Texas a hometown discount. Now, there's a chance the Rangers could lose the man slated to hit fifth and supply some of the power that went west with Hamilton to the Angels.

No way the offseason could be any worse, right?

According to the New Times, this story came to light when an employee turned over boxes of files from Biogenesis to a reporter shortly before the clinic closed and the owners seemingly disappeared.

The New Times studied the records and discovered meticulous handwritten notes that reportedly indicated current and former MLB players such as Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Gio Gonzalez and Cruz received performance-enhancing drugs from the clinic.

As it relates to Cruz, this is the article's most damning paragraph:

"According to his July 2012 client sheet, Bosch sold $4,000 of product to Nelson Cruz, whom he nicknames 'Mohamad.' Cruz, the power-hitting Dominican outfielder for the Texas Rangers, has whacked 130 bombs in his eight-year career without any links to performance-enhancing drugs. Until now. Bosch writes in his 2012 book: 'Need to call him, go Thur to Texas, take meds from April 5-May 5, will owe him troches and... and will infuse them in May.' "

Uh oh.

That seems awfully detailed to have been made up. Guess we'll find out after MLB completes its investigation. No one has discussed the accusations with Cruz yet, although the New Times said Cruz and his agent did not respond to repeated interview requests.

PODCAST
Former MLB general manager and ESPN Insider Jim Bowden offers insight into the Nelson Cruz PED allegations and discusses possible Rangers moves with Ben and Skin.

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Do you blame them?

Cruz has never been linked to performance-enhancing drugs. But when serious accusations are made about a player, his career must be scrutinized.

Especially when it's a player such as Cruz, who was a late bloomer. He didn't become a full-time starter until he was 28 years old.

Remember, the Rangers once put him on waivers and not a single team felt he was worth the $25,000 claim to add him.

The past four years, Cruz has become the club's full-time right fielder, delivering at least 22 homers and 76 RBIs. Last year, his homers on average were among the longest hit in baseball.

It's been that way since he became a big leaguer. Hopefully, it was done through God-given talent -- not because he used PEDs.