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ARLINGTON, Texas -- The suspense, what little there was, is over, as Nelson Cruz will bat sixth and be the designated hitter for the Texas Rangers in Monday night's American League wild-card tiebreaker game.
Cruz was reinstated from the restricted list and activated before Monday's game. Outfielder Joey Butler was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.
Asked Sunday in a news conference if he would be in the lineup, Cruz replied, "I think so." He was correct.
Cruz served a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball for violating the terms of MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. It ended after Sunday's final regular-season game, which the Rangers won 6-2 over the Los Angeles Angels to earn their way into the tiebreaker game.
He has tried to remain fresh by getting at-bats in the instructional leagues, going 9-for-27 with five doubles, a home run and nine RBIs against mostly Double-A and Class A pitchers.
Cruz was batting .269 with 27 home runs and 76 RBIs when he was suspended, the team leader in the latter two categories.
Cruz took about 15 swings during batting practice before hitting two home runs in a row. Cruz said his 10 minutes of batting was OK.
"It wasn't great, but it was OK," he said.
Did Cruz have a prediction for how he would fare against Rays starter David Price?
"Good at-bats," said Cruz, who is batting .429 with three home runs and five RBIs against Price for his career, including the postseason.
"He's a whole new pitcher. He throws me more changeups and to the corners the last time I faced him. I'm going to keep my approach and get something I can drive."
Manager Ron Washington was asked if he had any second thoughts about putting Cruz in the lineup since the Rangers are riding a seven-game winning streak and the slugger is coming off a long layoff without facing major league pitching.
"I put Nelson Cruz in the lineup," Washington said. "It was a no-brainer.
"It's the threat. It's the presence. It's what he does for everybody else just being in that lineup. It's awesome."
Todd Wills covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.