I Don’t Believe Nelson Cruz is Clean

Nelson Cruz: Clean as a Hudson River trout?
Nelson Cruz: Clean as a Hudson River trout?

I don’t believe Nelson Cruz is clean.

I know … I know. I have no evidence. I have no insider knowledge. I haven’t seen him popping pills or taking injections up the rear.

You’re right.

But I’m allowed to have an opinion.

Last August, Cruz—at the time with the Texas Rangers—accepted a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball for his involvement in buying performance enhancing drugs from a clinic based out of Miami. The story of Cruz’s cheating was first snagged by Miami News Times, which wrote: According to his July 2012 client sheet, [Biogenesis owner Anthony] 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.”

Cruz wasn’t alone in purchasing goods from Bosch. And he wasn’t alone in accepting suspensions. He cheated, he was caught, he was punished.

And now he’s back …

Better than ever.

It’s true. Signed by Baltimore before the season, Nelson Cruz has been an absolute monster. He leads the Majors with 22 home runs and 58 RBI, and also has a .299 average. Put different—the man is having, easily, the best year of his career.

I don’t buy it.

Performance enhancing drugs work, and work well. That’s why people take them. Not for status, or because they love handing over money to gross peddlers of product. No, PEDs are popped and injected because they lead to strength and stamina and, ultimately, big power numbers. Were he among trusted friends, Cruz would almost certainly admit this.

So to believe he stopped using … and improved? No. It defies logic, and also defies the psyche of an athlete. I’ve covered sports for a long time, and the greatest of the great depend on every edge—mental and physical. If you think you’re hitting home runs because of the juice in your veins, you’re hitting home runs because of the juice in your veins. It’s a powerful mental crutch, one suppliers rely on in this era of increased (but far from perfect) testing.

Do I know Nelson Cruz is cheating? No.

Do I believe he is? Yes.

I do.