The key, Nelson Cruz continues to say, is to swing at strikes. He's been doing it exceptionally well of late, smashing 14 homers in 17 games. But events on Thursday threaten to end that run.
In the fourth inning of Thursday's 7-5 loss to Cleveland, the Twins designated hitter got a good pitch to hit, a 96 miles per hour fastball from Mike Clevinger that was right down the runway. Another 450-foot home run ready for liftoff. Cruz ripped at the pitch, missed and then slid his left hand off the bat while grimacing.
Cruz walked away from the plate while manager Rocco Baldelli and assistant trainer Matt Biancuzzo came out to check on him. After a few moments, Cruz left the field.
The last thing the Twins need right now.
The 39-year-old has been diagnosed with a strained left wrist and is day-to-day. The Twins probably are crossing their fingers that he's out for just a few days.
"We went out and checked on him; he was feeling some discomfort," Baldelli said. "You could tell once we got out there that we weren’t going to let him stay in there or try to swing or do anything like that.”
Cruz was examined after the game. Baldelli has been pretty consistent in not sharing any thoughts or concerns about a player's health until the tests come back, and he didn't change after Thursday's game..
"I don’t know yet," he said. "It’s something that I can’t really comment on. I think we’re going to wait and we’ll definitely have a lot more info tomorrow, especially after talking with him and getting him looked at.”
Cruz landed on the injured list in May because of the wrist and winced a couple times after swings after he returned to action. But nothing lately, and the destruction he caused at the plate over the last few weeks suggested that the wrist was fine. A month ago, he wasn't even at 20 home runs. Now he's got a real shot at 40, a level he's reached three times in his career.
If he's out for any length of time, the Twins would feel some pain.