He is one who lets his play do the talking. However, the bat of Nelson Cruz has been doing a lot of talking for him lately.
The slugging right fielder for the Texas Rangers has opened this season on a hot note. He is one of three players in baseball history to start out with a home run in the first four games of the season, the other two being Willie Mays and Mark McGwire. It’s not that Cruz wasn’t a long ball threat before, the All-Star is one of the most feared hitters in a power packed lineup. After all, he has made a run before in the Home Run Derby during the mid-season classic. It just seems that right now he is seeing the ball better than others.
His journey hasn’t been as smooth as his swing. Signed as a free agent by the New York Mets, Cruz also played in the Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland A’s organization before coming over to the Rangers. At one point, he cleared waivers while with the Rangers because he had exhausted his minor league options. The Triple-A affiliate at the time, Oklahoma City, picked up his contract. After tearing up Pacific Coast League pitching, Cruz found himself back roaming the outfield grass at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Since then, Cruz has become a major presence for the Rangers. But it’s not just with his bat, he has a strong arm out in right field and those on the bases are well aware of it. Cruz made his share of heroics during the Rangers memorable World Series run last season, both at the plate and in the field.
Cruz and second baseman Ian Kinsler became the first two teammates in major league history to homer in each of the first three games in a season, and Cruz followed that up with a smash against the Seattle Mariners in the fourth game. If this start is any indication, there may be more memorable moments at the ballpark this year, with Nellie right in the middle of it.
Written by C. James