After the completion of his 50 game suspension for testing positive for steroids, the Braves have released right-handed reliever Rafael Cruz. In 30 games this season prior to his suspension, Cruz compiled a 1-3 record with a 3.45 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP for Mississippi and Gwinnett.
Cruz, originally a catcher in the Rangers system, who ended up being two years older than Texas believed him to be, was a surprising signing from the beginning. He had never pitched professionally in America, and had missed all of last season with an arm injury. He pitched two years ago as a teammate of Kenshin Kawakami in Japan, so there was thought that he may have been signed to ease Kawakami's transition to America. Cruz was invited to Major League Spring Training, pitched fairly poorly, was cut quickly and assigned to AA, where he was less than stellar. Things did pick up, as he didn't allow any earned runs in 8.2 AAA innings. Though, that could have been influence by the stuff that got him suspended.
While releasing a player is rarely seen as a kind move by a team, in this case it is, as the Braves allowed Cruz to finish his suspension. Reds' Minor Leaguer Justin Mallett was suspended 100 games this season for steroids and immediately released, effectively ending his career, as no team is going to sign a 27 year old with a 100 game suspension waiting for him.