Cruz said he'll try to lobby manager Scott Servais to play in the outfield.
ANAHEIM, Calif. — It’s a less than ideal situation for manager Scott Servais. With an offense that is struggling to generate runs of late, he now has to remove his most dangerous bat — designated hitter Nelson Cruz — from the starting lineup for three straight games vs. the Rockies in Denver.
With no designated hitter and Cruz’s injury history — he tweaked his calf playing outfield at Coors Field last season — the Mariners will limit him to pinch hitting duties in the final three games before the All-Star break.
But is there even a little temptation to put Cruz out in right field to keep his powerful bat in the cleanup spot?
“There’s a lot, actually,” Servais said. “But it lasts for about 10 seconds and then we move on. But it’s hard. He’s a big part of our offense. It will be a challenge for us going into Coors Field without him in the middle of the lineup. But we are trying to win the war and along the way you have to fight a lot of battles. It will be an opportunity for other guys to step up. I’m sure we’ll get similar production from our pitchers when they step in the box.”
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Cruz, now 38, has basically become a full-time designated hitter. In past years, he would lobby hard to play outfield, particularly during interleague series in National League parks.
“Not as much this year,” Servais said. “Don’t tell him I said that. But it wasn’t as strong this year as it was in the past. It’s not easy. We talked about it the last week and a half going into the series. We have to do what’s right.”
Of course, Cruz was told what Servais said.
“How many seconds?” Cruz said.
“Oh he thought about it longer than that,” Cruz replied. “I don’t have to convince him.”
So that means you are going to play outfield?
“Yes!” Cruz said.
Despite his imposing and hulking frame, Cruz can’t force his way into the lineup and he knows it. He’ll listen to what Servais has to say when it comes to his playing time. He might not like it. But he won’t complain.
“You have to be smart,” he said. “I understand the process. And I understand he’s the one that makes the call. I definitely want to play. But he has the last call. We’ll see what happens. I will be prepared. We will chat today to see if I can convince him. I will be ready and willing.”
Of course, if they had the designated hitter in the National League, this wouldn’t be a problem.
“They should, yeah,” he said. “I don’t think are going to listen me. It hasn’t been there for 100 years.”