ARLINGTON, TEXAS – Nelson Cruz is one of only seven players to hit 100 home runs in what is now known as Globe Life Park, and he appeared in a couple of World Series here, too. So this weekend, his last one here before the 26-year-old stadium is mothballed when the Rangers move next door to an air-conditioned, retractable-roof home, is bringing back some fond memories.
“So many good times here. They have great fans here. The people always treated me well,” the 39-year-old slugger said. “In my case, it’s really special because it’s where I grew as a player, as a person.”
Cruz was traded to the Rangers at the 2006 trade deadline after playing just eight games for Milwaukee. The Rangers made him a regular, and within three years, he was an All-Star, beginning a career that included 101 home runs in Arlington, and now has him just eight short of 400 for his career. What does he remember about his early days in Texas?
“I was hoping to play one more day,” Cruz said. “That was my goal. Be here one more day, then one more day.”
He said he regrets that he won’t have a chance to add to his home-run total here — “But I feel worse that I’m not able to help my team,” he said — and has no plans to take any souvenirs from his home for eight seasons.
He’s definitely sorry to see it go, though he understands the reason why.
“It’s still in pretty good condition. It’s just the heat, that’s the only issue. Besides that, it’s a great ballpark, it definitely is,” Cruz said. “But you have to think of the fans [and] the players. The Rangers will probably be playing with fewer injuries because the heat can get to you. And the fans, you want to play for the fans but you know it’s hard for them in this heat, too.”
Cruz braved the heat, which reached 101 at midafternoon Friday, to take batting practice. It went well and his injured left wrist felt great, he said. “I hope to be right back” when he’s eligible on Monday, Cruz said, “but we’ll know more tomorrow.”
Running a red light
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli wasn’t happy when Texas reliever Shawn Kelley hit Max Kepler on the shoulder with a 3-0 pitch during the ninth inning of the Twins’ 13-6 victory on Thursday, though he sounded sympathetic to the veteran righthander’s provocation. The previous batter, Jake Cave, also faced a 3-0 pitch, and swung at it, lining a single to right field — an unsportsmanlike indiscretion, many ballplayers believe, with such a large lead late in the game.
“Normally in that situation, we’re probably not swinging. I’m sure they were not happy about [Cave] taking a hack at the ball,” Baldelli said. “We don’t swing 3-0 very often. Was it a little surprising that he swung 3-0? A little bit.”
That said, “I don’t think anyone is happy when one of your guys gets hit,” Baldelli emphasized. “We’re going to stand by our players, both Jake and Kep. But we’ll handle all the discussions internally, between ourselves.”
Cave was apologetic about swinging, gesturing on first base that he shouldn’t have. And he said afterward that he apologized to Kepler for angering Kelley, though “Kep wasn’t mad at all.”
He received a red-light sign — don’t swing — from the dugout, but said he didn’t realize until afterward that he had missed it.
• Ian Krol, a 28-year-old righthander who has pitched for four major league teams, was suspended for 50 games after failing a test for a drug of abuse, Major League Baseball announced. The 50-game penalty for Krol, who joined Class AAA Rochester in mid-June after being released by the Reds, is enforced because it was his second failed drug test, and will carry over to next season.
• Lefthander Lewis Thorpe was called up by the Twins on Friday, replacing Devin Smeltzer, who was optioned to Class AAA Rochester after pitching four inning on Thursday. Thorpe has allowed four runs in 11⅓ innings, a 3.18 ERA, in two other stints with the Twins this year.
• Saturday’s game will be delayed until 7:35 p.m. while the Rangers induct 2010 AL MVP Josh Hamilton and former Arlington Mayor Richard Greene into the Rangers Hall of Fame.