Cruz slipped on the bottom stair of the dugout and rolled over his ankle, forcing him out of the game. He'll have a MRI on Sunday.
Nelson Cruz limped to his locker in the Mariners clubhouse with a new accessory on his right foot. It wasn’t a new style of LeBron James basketball shoes that he’s fond of wearing.
Nope, it was gray walking boot to help provide some relief for his swollen right ankle. The Mariners not only suffered a 6-5 loss to the Indians on Saturday, but they also lost their designated hitter and their most dangerous hitter for possibly a few days with a sprained ankle.
How the injury happened might be enough for manager Scott Servais or general manager Jerry Dipoto to hire a shaman or exorcist to expel the injury demons that are plaguing this team.
After smashing a towering two-run homer into the Mariners’ bullpen in the sixth inning off of starter Carlos Carrasco, Cruz eased around the bases, protecting his sore right quad. When he got to the dugout, he went through his array of individual celebrations with teammates. He brought the Mariners within a run at 6-5. Eventually, he headed down the stairs of the dugout to put his helmet and gear back in the rack.
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But he failed to negotiate the bottom step properly.
“He came down, doing the customary high-fives to everybody, everything was fine there,” Servais said. “Things settled down, he walked down back into the batting cage, slipped on the bottom step and twisted his ankle.”
Cruz’s plastic cleat slid on the plastic edge of the step and he lost his balance.
“Plastic and plastic and I was slipping,” he said. “It’s a shame. I kind of rolled over the ankle so everything stretched on there.”
Cruz’s pain tolerance is high, but there was no going back into the game.
“I couldn’t even walk,” he said. “It feels better now. Thank God, there is nothing broken. It feels better now than what it was.”
While the X-rays came back negative, he’s scheduled for a MRI on Sunday to see the extent of the damage. Servais listed him day to day. But it seems like he will miss a few days.
“It feels better,” Cruz said. “It was worse when it happened. At least I can walk now, but we have to see how it feels tomorrow. We’ll take it day by day.”
The injury proved costly in the outcome of the game. Down 6-5, Robinson Cano doubled on a soft liner that centerfielder Bradley Zimmer couldn’t quite make a tough diving catch on. With the tying run on second, Cruz was supposed to come to the plate. Instead, he was in the training room. Servais pinch hit with Guillermo Heredia, hoping for a sacrifice bunt to move Cano to third for Kyle Seager. Heredia missed on his first two attempts and then hit a soft fly to left. Miller then struck out Seager and Ryon Healy to end the inning and squash the Mariners’ rally hopes.
“That last at-bat, I was like, ‘Wow, this should be my chance, this should be my at-bat,'” Cruz said. “But it is what it is. I will be fine.”
It hasn’t been a fun first few days for the Mariners, who dealt with plenty of injury issues this spring. They placed Mike Zunino on the disabled list on Friday with an oblique strain. Now Cruz could miss a handful of games with the ankle issue.
“Freak accident, kind of unbelievable at times, some of the things we’ve gone through here,” Servais said. “We’ll try to stay positive and hopefully everything is OK.”
Though he admitted wanting to vomit when he first heard what happened to Cruz.
“I don’t know any other way to put it,” he said. “Our club has battled through a bunch of nagging injuries here in spring training and early in the season here. Nelson smoked the ball before the home run, then he hits the home run. Obviously, (Cruz’s injury) played into the back end of the game when we had some chances.”