“I have been notified by the Commissioner of Major League Baseball that I have been suspended for 50 games for violation of the Joint Drug Agreement,” Cruz said in a statement. “I have decided to accept this suspension and not exercise my rights under the Basic Agreement to appeal. 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.”
According to multiple reports Monday morning, Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz is among the players who will be suspended today by Major League Baseball for using banned substances obtained through the shuttered Biogenesis clinic. Cruz is reportedly facing – and will accept – a 50-game suspension.
According to USA Today,
Rangers officials were blindsided by the news, only learning of Cruz’s decision Monday morning, hours before MLB was set to announce its discipline in the Biogenesis matter. They struggled to land a potential replacement for Cruz at the July 31 non-waivers trade deadline, and now will attempt to add depth by making a waiver trade before Aug. 31, a process that guarantees little.
The Angels signed another former Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Monday, their second in the last two weeks. Right-hander pitcher Jason Urquidez also became the second Atlantic League pitcher to sign a minor-league contract with the Angels the last two days.
Urquidez, who had been pitching for the Lancaster (Pa.) Barnstormers, agreed to a minor-league contract and will be assigned to Triple-A Salt Lake. The 30-year-old appeared in 136 games (all in relief) for the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate between 2006 and 2011 without reaching the majors.
This season Urquidez made 39 relief appearances for the Barnstormers, posting a 3-1 record with 24 saves and a 0.25 earned-run average. The Tarzana native allowed 19 hits and seven walks while striking out 48. His one loss and both of his blown saves came as the result of unearned runs.
On July 24, the Angels claimed former D-Backs middle reliever J.C. Gutierrez off waivers.
The Angels have signed left-handed pitcher Dontrelle Willis, a 9-year major league veteran, to a minor-league contract. He will report to Triple-A Salt Lake.
Willis, 31, was pitching for the independent Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League. He had a 2.56 earned-run average, with a 5-4 record and 52 strikeouts in 87 ⅔ innings, and started the Atlantic League All-Star game.
The signing was first reported by Newsday.
Willis hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2011, when he went 1-6 with a 5.00 ERA in 13 starts for the Cincinnati Reds. He split the 2011 season between Cincinnati and Triple-A Louisville, and became a free agent at the end of the season. His transactions log since reads like a set of Bob Dylan lyrics.
He signed with the Philadelphia Phillies in December 2011 but was released March 16 the following year, in the middle of spring training. Four days later he showed up in Baltimore and was assigned to the Orioles’ Triple-A affiliate after recovering from a sore forearm. Willis made just four appearances in Triple-A, going 0-3 with an 8.53 earned-run average, before announcing his retirement in July.
But in January he signed with the Chicago Cubs only to be released March 30, having made one start in spring training and leaving with a stiff left shoulder. He signed with the Long Island Ducks in April.
Willis won the 2003 National League Rookie of the Year award with the Florida Marlins. He’s also pitched for the Detroit Tigers, Arizona Diamondbacks and Reds in his major-league career, combining for a 72-69 record and a 4.17 ERA with 896 strikeouts in 205 games (202 starts).
Willis was originally drafted by the Cubs in the eighth round of the 2000 amateur draft.
The Angels requested unconditional release waivers on Brad Hawpe for the purpose of granting him his unconditional release Sunday. Hawpe had been designated for assignment on July 29.
If Hawpe isn’t claimed by another team, the Angels are responsible for paying the remainder of his 2013 salary.
Hawpe batted .185 (5 for 27) as an Angel after his contract was purchased from Triple-A Salt Lake on June 8.
Jason Vargas was feeling well one day after throwing a three-inning simulated game at Angel Stadium. Manager Mike Scioscia said that the left-hander is “tentatively” scheduled to throw a 5-inning or 75-pitch rehabilitation assignment Thursday for a to-be-determined minor league affiliate.
All three of the Angels’ top minor-league affiliates — the Salt Lake Bees (AAA), Arkansas Travelers (AA) and Inland Empire 66ers (A) — are on the road that day. Inland Empire has a nearby road game against the High Desert Mavericks, where line drives routinely go for home runs. Injured Angels pitchers have rehabbed there in the past, so it’s a possibility.
Vargas has been on the disabled list since June 21, when he was diagnosed with a blood clot near his left armpit. Saturday’s sim game was his first since undergoing surgery in June.
In his first season with the Angels, Vargas is 6-4 with a 3.65 earned-run average in 14 starts.
In other injury news, Peter Bourjos (fractured wrist) took part in batting practice for the fourth straight day. Scioscia said that the center fielder is also on track for a rehabilitation assignment later in the week.
When Nick Maronde took Scott Downs‘ spot on the Angels’ roster Monday, there was a neighborly vibe to the transaction. Not just because the two left-handed pitchers had lockers tucked into the same corner of the Angels’ clubhouse the last two seasons; Downs lives about five minutes away from Maronde’s parents in Lexington, Kentucky.
Maronde, 24, said the 37-year-old Downs was a mentor to him, sometimes in the off-season as well.
When he learned that Downs had been traded Monday, Maronde said, “I texted him and thanked him for all he’s done for me. I want to keep in touch. He’s a wealth of knowledge.”
“He still works in between. He’s working hard,” Scioscia said. “He’s probably going to be coming in a little earlier in the game, or having to pitch extra innings. Carry a game that goes into the 10th inning at times. There’s going to be — we’ll see what situations come up and how he’s used, but he’s definitely one of the few guys who can give us length if we need to.”
Blanton appeared in back-to-back games last Saturday and Sunday in Oakland, but hasn’t appeared in a game since.
Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus is older than Cory by about 15 months. Cory isn’t with the Angels yet — he’s at Triple-A Salt Lake — but Colby has decent idea of what Angels fans can expect from his younger brother once he arrives.
“We played together from the time we was little bitty,” Colby Rasmus said.
The Angels carried one extra pitcher for parts of the first half too, particularly when the bullpen was being overused by manager Mike Scioscia‘s standards. It was out of necessity — the Angels’ starting pitchers rarely lasted beyond six innings — and that’s the case again.