Minus suspended stars, teams keep up playoff push

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Jose Iglesias and a fresh band of Texas Rangers now have All-Star spikes to fill.

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.

Last year, All-Star game MVP Melky Cabrera served a 50-game suspension that ended in October. The San Francisco Giants kept him off the roster on their way to winning the World Series.

“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.

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