The Baltimore Orioles have seemed to put the failed physical demon to rest as their last three free agent acquisitions have all passed with flying colors, and the latest to do so is their new big bat, OF Nelson Cruz. The O's held their press conference to officially introduce Cruz to the media in Sarasota yesterday at their Spring Training complex.
Despite the fact that Cruz is coming off of a 50-game suspension for his involvement in the Biogensis case, many experts around the game feel that Cruz is the steal of the draft for the one-year, $8 million deal the Orioles got him for. The 33 year old was an American League All-Star for the second time in 2013, batting .266/.327/.506 with 27 home runs and 76 RBI in 109 games for Texas.
Via Orioles Press Release, since becoming a regular in 2009, Cruz has hit at least 22 home runs in each of the last five seasons, and he is one of 13 hitters with 20 or more long balls in each of those seasons. Among players appearing in at least 100 games, Cruz is one of nine to have a slugging percentage of .500 or higher in at least four seasons since 2009.
Cruz has batted .278/.336/.683 with 14 home runs in 34 post-season games (137 plate appearances), ranking fifth all-time in playoff history in slugging percentage and tied for 11th in home runs. He was named MVP of the 2011 American League Championship Series against Detroit, batting .364/.440/1.273 with six home runs in six games, helping Texas reach the World Series for the second straight year.
In 2012, Cruz set career-highs in games (159), at-bats (585), runs (86), hits (152), doubles (45) and RBI (90). A career .268/.327/.506 hitter in nine big league seasons with Milwaukee (2005) and Texas (2006-13), Cruz was named an AL All-Star for the first time in 2009, when he set career-highs with 33 home runs and 20 stolen bases.
Baltimore has quite a few guys that have been very outspoken about PED use and their intolerance for guys that use them. Nick Markakis and Chris Davis are among those outspoken individuals and have welcomed Cruz with open arms and have shown their support for their new teammate, as both were among several players in attendance for the Cruz press conference.
Among those in attendance were Adam Jones, Manny Machado, JJ Hardy, Matt Wieters, Tommy Hunter, Darren O'Day, hitting coach Jim Presley, Davis and Markakis. One thing to keep in mind is that several Orioles have been a teammate of Cruz's in the past and Manager Buck Showalter had him for a brief time while with Texas.
There were some technical difficulties while the press conference was airing yesterday morning, so incase you missed it, click the link below to hear the whole press conference, which was given to us via Orioles' releases.
Spring Training games begin today in the Grapefruit League, with the Orioles starting their spring schedule on Friday when they hit the road to take on the Tampa Bay Rays, and we will finally have some game action to discuss, but who knows when we will get to see the projected starting lineup in action. Baltimore will be playing some intra-squad games today at Ed Smith Stadium.
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