OAKLAND, Calif. — Nelson Cruz doesn’t feel 100 percent. His elbow is still a little sore and swollen and his right foot doesn’t feel great running the bases.
But he’s back in the lineup and trying to find his way back to feeling something that’s been fleeting this season because of a myriad injuries that are frustrating — a comfort level at the plate.
On Thursday, Cruz went 1 for 4 in the Mariners’ 4-3 loss to the A’s. He stepped to the plate with bases loaded in the first inning and hit into a 6-4-3 double play. It scored a run, but it also didn’t allow for a big inning.
His batting average has dropped to .222. He has just three hits in his last 22 at-bats — all singles. But he believes consistent health and consistent plate appearances will get him going.
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“The only way you can start to feel good is by playing and getting some at-bats,” he said. “That’s what I’m trying to do. Hopefully I can stay healthy for the rest of the season and find my groove.”
The injuries — a sprained right ankle, a bone bruise to the top of the right foot and severe elbow contusion — have not only forced Cruz to miss games, but also not allowed him to do his normal diligent pregame work and preparation. For someone like Cruz, who is maniacal about his preparation each day, removing that aspect is detrimental. Now he’s healthy enough to get in his work.
“I’m finally able to do my routines, which helps me,” he said.
For Cruz and most hitters, it can be something as simple as one at-bat or even one swing that gets him going.
“That’s what you need,” he said. “I feel like I’m swinging pretty good. The hack that I’m taking feels good. It’s just a matter of time where I get one and start clicking and the confidence going.”
With Dee Gordon on the disabled list and Robinson Cano suspended, Cruz knows he needs to be a presence in the middle of the order for the offense. Seattle definitely looked like a team searching for offense in the series with the A’s.
“It felt like the offense did just enough for us to win games,” he said. “With the guys that are out, it’s an adjustment. Hopefully we can start hitting when we go home.”
A strong debut for Andreoli
John Andreoli checked his phone before Thursday afternoon’s game. At some point, he’ll respond to all the text messages. But it wouldn’t be today.
“I’ve probably got over 300,” he said. “I finally had to put my phone on airplane mode because it wouldn’t stop buzzing.”
But the texters meant well. After all, Andreoli made his big-league debut in Wednesday night’s 1-0 win over the A’s. He notched his first career hit — a sharp single to right — and made an important running grab.
“It was unbelievable,” he said. “It was so much fun. It was everything you could have dreamed of. I’m just really happy to help the team win. It was intense coming down to the last batter.”
Andreoli’s parents and fiancée flew in from Boston and made it to the game. He could hear their cheers from the sparsely populated Oakland Coliseum.
“A little bit, I think,” he said. “I tried to just zone in the pitch and zone out the crowd. I saw them a couple of times in batting practice. It was great.”