FORT MYERS, FLA. – Breaking news. Nelson Cruz has been found.
Cruz had two plate appearances in the spring training opener on Feb. 23. He was hit by a pitch and walked. He then retreated to the comfort of the Twins clubhouse for the next 12 games. He’s worked out, studied film, hit in the batting cages and even sneaked over to the minor league side to face minor leaguers. He’s also worked on tracking pitches and has hit off a special machine that throws curveballs.
He’s appeared in the dugout at times to watch games.
“I go inside and outside,” he said, “and I go home early too.”
Cruz appeared in a boxscore again on Friday, lining an RBI single in his first at-bat as the Twins and Rays tied 5-5.
“Feels good,” Cruz said. “Feels like I’m part of the game, part of the team. So it was nice.”
Cruz grounded out and struck out in his next two plate appearances. Tyler Austin went 3-for-3 with a double to lead the Twins, who scored twice in the first inning and added two more in the fifth. The runs in the fifth scored when Tampa Bay’s Emilio Bonifacio dropped Jonathan Schoop’s fly ball on the warning track with Eddie Rosario on first for a four-base error.
Cruz, meanwhile, will be more visible in the coming days. He’s scheduled to play on Sunday against Toronto as he will look for as many at-bats as he needs until he feels ready for Opening Day.