Nelson Cruz says a stomach virus caused him to use performance-enhancing drugs

Mike Oz
Big League Stew

Texas Rangers slugger Nelson Cruz, one of the 13 players suspended by Major League Baseball because of ties to the Biogenesis clinic, gave the public an explanation Monday about why he used PEDs.

Or why he "made an error in judgment." Because Cruz, like Ryan Braun before him, didn't plainly admit to using drugs, just that he made an "error."

Cruz's excuse? He had a stomach virus and had lost 40 pounds. He needed to get ready for the season, so he sought some help. In Florida. From a guy named Tony Bosch. Who wasn't a real doctor.

Here's Cruz's statement:

"From November, 2011 to January, 2012, I was seriously ill with a gastrointestinal infection, helicobacter pylori, which went undiagnosed for over a month. By the time I was properly diagnosed and treated, I had lost 40 pounds. Just weeks before I was to report to spring training in 2012, I was unsure whether I would be physically able to play. Faced with this situation, I made an error in judgment that I deeply regret, and I accept full responsibility for that error. I should have handled the situation differently, and my illness was no excuse. I am thankful for the unwavering support of my family, friends, and teammates during this difficult time. I look forward to regaining the trust and respect of the Rangers organization, my teammates, and the great Rangers’ fans, and I am grateful for the opportunity to rejoin the team for the playoffs."

If you want to give Cruz the benefit of the doubt here, that's fair. GI disorders can really mess you up. And if he lost 40 pounds quickly like he says, something was obviously wrong. Counterpoint: He did have access to a pro sports teams' medical staff.

In the grand scheme of the PED nonsense we've seen, it's not like Cruz tried to create a fake website to hide his guilt. Or was caught using female fertility drugs. And he did ultimately take "full responsibility" for his actions and accept his punishment, so Nelson has those two things going for him — even if you don't think PEDs are the next logical step after a stomach virus.

No debate about this: Losing Cruz will be big blow for the Rangers. They're in second place, chasing the Oakland Athletics and he's the team's top power hitter — with 27 homers and 76 RBIs this season, both tops for Texas. Rangers GM Jon Daniels issued the following statement after the suspension.

"We support MLB and their drug policy in cleaning up the game. We are not going to replace Cruz’s production with any one player. Wash and his staff will be creative to get the best out of the current roster."

Baseball season's in full swing. Don't miss a thing.
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