Minus suspended stars, teams keep up playoff push
Also sent previously. With AP Photos.
By BEN WALKER
AP Baseball Writer
The playoff races took a twist Monday when Detroit shortstop Jhonny Peralta and Texas outfielder Nelson Cruz were suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball in the Biogenesis drug case. In all, 13 players were penalized.
The AL Central-leading Tigers acquired Iglesias from Boston in a three-team trade last week, preparing to play minus Peralta. The contending Rangers called up two outfielders from Triple-A soon after Cruz was banned.
"Who knows how it is going to hurt them with Peralta and Cruz being out? Who knows who comes up and how they'll do? We'll see how it shakes up," Kansas City pitcher Aaron Crow said.
Crow has a rooting interest. The Royals could wind up chasing both affected teams -- Detroit in the division, Texas for a wild-card spot.
"You never want to see someone get in trouble like that. But if it makes their team not as good, that's good for us," Crow said.
Peralta, hitting .305 with 11 home runs and 54 RBIs, and Cruz, leading the Rangers with 27 homers and 76 RBIs, will be eligible for Game 1 of the playoffs if their teams make it.
"Yeah, that happened to San Francisco last year and they survived it with Melky," said manager Fredi Gonzalez of NL East-leading Atlanta. "But some teams might not be able to survive it when you lose a player."
As for whether Peralta and Cruz would definitely be welcomed back, no determination yet.
"Right now, that's not something we're going to tackle at this point," Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said. "We don't have to make that decision. That's way down the road, so we'll focus on what we need to do, which is to win ballgames and worry about that question later on."
Texas manager Ron Washington said Cruz would be accepted "unequivocally." Texas GM Jon Daniels said, yes, it was possible.
"Assuming that there's no other information that we're not yet aware of and if his teammates welcome him back, and Nellie handles this well, which I expect he probably will, then we're open to it," Daniels said.
Looking for insurance, the Tigers got Iglesias from the Red Sox before last week's trade deadline in a three-team deal that included the Chicago White Sox.
Iglesias was hitting a combined .323 with two homers and 21 RBIs when the suspensions were announced. He's split his time this season between third base and shortstop.
"It will change the look of our ballclub a little bit, but we'll move on," Dombrowski said. "I think we still have a chance to win a world championship."
Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez was suspended through the end of next season, but appealed the penalty and can play until an arbitrator decides the case, which isn't expected until November or December at the earliest.
New York is on the fringe of the playoff race and desperate for power -- the 38-year-old Rodriguez has 647 career homers.
"We have a mission to enter the postseason," he said. "We have challenges."
"It's upsetting a little bit," Gentry said. "He's a great teammate and he's been a big part of this ballclub for a lot of years. It's going to be a little bit tough not having him around."
Especially with the way he was hitting.
"It goes without saying we're not going to replace Nelson's production with any one player, whether that's internally or via a trade," Daniels said. "But we're going to be creative. ... It's a challenge for us, with Nelson's history of production and the year he's having."
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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