- May 9, 2019: Cruz has served exclusively as a designated hitter this season, and he has hit up to that designation
|Home:||N/A||Team:||TWINS - IL|
|DOB:||7/1/1980||Agent:||Relativity Baseball-Mark Pieper|
|Birth City:||Montecristi, D. R.|
|Draft:||1998 - Mets - Free agent|
Nelson was good enough at basketball, which he concentrated on more than baseball as a teen, to play for the Dominican Republic Junior National team.
- In 2000, when the Mets looked to acquire utilityman Jorge Velandia from Oakland, the two teams initially couldn’t agree on a player in return. The A’s Latin American scouts raved about Cruz following his monster season in the rookie-level Dominican Summer League, so they took him. (Baseball America - December 2004)
When Nelson was a teen in the Dominican Republic, his family sent him to work at an uncle's car repair shop, working on tractors and trucks as a mechanic. He was a big kid, but Cruz just dabbled a little bit in sports. His baseball experience was limited to street games.
"When I was 15 or 16, I knew more about tractors than autos," Cruz said. "I know how to fix a car from the 1990s, but cars today are all computers."
That changed when Mets scout Eddy Toledo spotted Cruz in a pickup game and persuaded him to join a team. It turned out that Nelson's skills weren't limited to fixing cars, and Toledo signed him at age 17.
Cruz shares a hometown with Ozzie Virgil, the first Dominican to ever play Major League Baseball. Both are from Monte Cristi.
During the offseason before 2005 spring training, Baseball America ranked Nelson as #10 prospect in the A's organization. Before 2006 spring camp, the magazine had Cruz as 8th-best prospect in the Brewers organization.
In 2005, Nelson was the Brewers Minor League Player of the Year after helping lead the Triple-A Nashville Sounds to the Pacific Coast League Championship.
- On September 4, 2006, Nelson hit two home runs, one of which was the 21st inside-the-park home run in Texas Ranger history. Cruz was the sixth Ranger to hit two home runs in a game with one being inside the park. Rusty Greer was the last Ranger (July 21, 1994), against Pat Hentgen and the Toronto Blue Jays. Bump Wills, Gary Ward, Bob Brower, and Ruben Sierra also accomplished this feat.
Bump Wills did it on August 27, 1977, against the New York Yankees. That was the famous moment when Toby Harrah and Wills hit inside-the-park home runs on consecutive pitches off Yankees pitcher Ken Clay. (T.R. Sullivan-MLB.com-9/4/06)
In 2008, Cruz was named the Pacific Coast League's MVP after hitting .342 with 37 home runs and 99 RBIs for Triple-A Oklahoma.
In 2008, Nelson was named the Rangers' organization's Player of the Year.
In 2011, Cruz easily won the ALCS MVP for leading the Rangers to the World Series. No one else in Major League history has hit six homers or collected 13 RBIs in a playoff series. The only other players with even five homers in a single postseason series were Reggie Jackson, Ken Griffey, Jr., Juan Gonzalez, and Chase Utley.
He was 8 for 22 (.364) and all eight hits were extra-base hits—the six homers and two doubles. Only one player has had more extra-base hits in a playoff series was Yankee Hideki Matsui, who had nine in the 2004 ALCS vs. Boston.
Consider his other "Nellie-fest" feats:
+ He hit the first game-ending grand slam in postseason history.
+ He became the first player with extra-inning homers in two games of one series.
+ He became the first player to hit six homers in two postseasons, and he's done it in back-to-back years.
+ He became the franchise's career postseason home run king.
In 2012, Nelson purchased a fire truck for the city of Las Matas Santa Cruz in the Dominican Republic. The town of 18,756 people is in the Monte Cristi province in which Cruz grew up.
American Medical Response also donated two ambulance to Las Matas Santa Cruz. And the Arlington, Texas Fire Department contributed to the effort.
"It's a big deal," Cruz said. "I know kids who have died because we didn't have an ambulance. I had a friend who lost his house because we didn't have a fire truck. My town is not that big. It's definitely needed. We have firefighters, but we didn't have a fire truck."
August 5-September 30, 2013: Cruz and 12 other players around MLB were handed 50-game suspensions that effectively ended their regular season, for using PED's. His Rangers teammates were sympathetic and supportive, while recognizing Nelson had made a terrible mistake. He spoke to his teammates before leaving the clubhouse.
"It was a really emotional talk," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "He's part of our family. I've known him since he has been here. He's always had my back and talked to me during bad times. We love him. It was tough as a man to stand up in front of everybody and talk for real. You can see how tough it is for him and his family.
"At that moment, you're not a player, you're a human being. Nobody is perfect and nobody has the power to judge. The main thing is to support him. I love him like a brother."
Said catcher A.J. Pierzynski, "People around here really respect Nellie for the way he goes about his business. He was very remorseful and sad. He did not make excuses. He said he made a mistake. We're all men here. We all have to live with the consequences. It's a shame it happened, but we'll get through it."
Washington said no players expressed any anger directed at Cruz for being suspended. There was also no anger expressed over Cruz deciding not to appeal the suspension. If Cruz had filed an appeal, he would have still been able to play until the case was heard by an arbitrator.
"I read or heard something about us being angry," pitcher Derek Holland said. "That's not true. We love the guy. That's got to stop. We love him and we're behind him."
In 2014, Cruz was the Most Valuable Oriole, beating out Adam Jones and Zach Britton.
Nelson grew up working on his grandpa's farm. His parents were both teachers, Dominga at his elementary school and Nelson Sr. a social studies instructor at the high school.
Cruz was selected to start in the 2015 All-Star Game.
Cruz had the best season of his life in 2015, smashing a career-high 44 home runs and batting .302 in his first year with the Mariners. So what did the 35-year-old do to celebrate? He went home to the Dominican Republic and kicked his offseason training regimen up another notch.
"I've been working harder this year than ever before," Cruz said.
Some players wind down in their mid-30s, but Cruz has shown no signs of regression. Power has always been a big part of his game, but he proved to be a better all-around hitter than the Mariners expected last season after signing him to a four-year, $56 million contract.
"I guess my excuse has to be that I started playing baseball late," Cruz said. "I'm still developing."
Indeed, Cruz didn't play a lot of baseball as a kid growing up, instead focusing more on basketball. He signed with the Mets as an 18-year-old, but didn't become a full-time Major Leaguer until age 28 with the Rangers.
"I'm working like I was 20," he said. "I have that love. That's the most important thing. When you quit loving the game or having the passion, you start breaking down. The love and passion are still there, and that's what you need to perform and go out there and compete every day." (Johns - MLB.com - 2/24/16)
Baseball has been good to Nelson. He's living the good life as a Major Leaguer. The Mariners' 2016 cleanup hitter, however, has not forgotten the reality of life back home in the Dominican Republic. And Cruz is committed to helping as best he can to make things better for his fellow Dominicans.
It started with a gesture of concern for his neighbors in Las Matas de Santa Cruz in 2011 in response to a fire that destroyed the home of one if his lifelong friends. Cruz, with the Rangers at the time, arranged for the purchase of a firetruck that was shipped back home, and he started what is a growing effort to help his countrymen.
"In my community, we didn't have a firetruck," Cruz said. "We also needed an ambulance because we don't have the biggest hospital. When somebody gets sick, or accidents or heart attacks, any emergency, we had to transport those people in trucks or SUVS, nothing that can give you the medical attention you need."
When Cruz first looked into buying the firetruck, there was sticker shock. "It was $300,000, $250,000," said Cruz, whose salary was $440,000 in 2010, the season before he began the search. "I could not afford that. [The Rangers] helped me contact the fire department in Texas, and they helped me find one. I bought the firetruck, and they donated the ambulances."
The program has grown since Cruz's arrival in Seattle, underscored by a foundation he is creating this year to help improve the situation for firefighters and medical attention. Cruz.said it's an attitude that was ingrained in him as a child. He parents were both teachers, and his father also became a lawyer.
"My dad was always involved with the community," said Cruz. "He founded a basketball team in my community. He founded the Patronales [a celebration to honor the patron saint of Las Matas]. My dad always goes to meetings to help the community develop. I learned from him. Now that I have a chance to help people, there is nothing better than to feel I can do something for my country, my community."
In addition to the firetruck and the ambulances, Cruz's initial efforts include providing the people in his hometown with firefighting gear, including uniforms and hoses.
"Last year I talked to the [Seattle] Fire Department and they donated a bunch of equipment," Cruz said. "We spread the equipment all over the state [of Monte Cristi]. We raised money, trying to train guys so they can be firefighters and paramedics.
"In my community, they are voluntary firemen. They don't make any money. We collect money so they at least have food for their family. We help them out, sending their children to school, stuff like that." (Ringolsby - MLB.com - 6/13/16)
December 2016: Cruz committed to play for the Dominican Republic in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Joe West has been an MLB umpire since 1976. In 2017 he had entered his fifth decade in the game, which is just astounding. Clearly impressed by West's impeccable career on the diamond, Nelson saw fit to ask West for a photograph ... as he strode to the plate in the sixth inning of the 2017 All-Star Game. But he wasn't looking for a selfie, thanks to spot-photographer Yadier Molina behind home plate.
Why not, right? And the end result was pretty magnificent, as Cruz proudly displayed the photo during his dugout chat with FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. And later in the evening, Cruz presented the big reveal on his Instagram page.
After the game was over, Cruz explained that this was actually his plan from the very beginning -- kind of. "I thought about it before the game and told everybody I was going to take a picture with Joe West my first at-bat. It was supposed to be a selfie, but I saw Yadi say batting gloves would make it [difficult]."
So why Joe West? "Well, he's a legend, you know? I think that's the only chance you get to take a picture with Joe West." (Garro & DeNicola - mlb.com - 7/11/17)
Nelson drives a Mercedes-Benz. Other Cruz Favorites:
Movie: The Day After Tomorrow
Actor: Denzel Washington
TV Show: El Chavo del Ocho.
Music: Latin Music.
Food: Latin food.
July 2018 : Cruz was selected to play in the MLB All-Star game.
Oct. 16, 2018: In American-themed shoes, Cruz announced on Instagram that he'd become a U.S. citizen. His post reads in both English and Spanish, "Mission accomplished. Next stop: Registering to vote."
Charity work off the field in 2018 : Nelson’s compassion ranges from promoting education to ensuring the most vulnerable people of his hometown of Las Matas de Santa Cruz in the Dominican Republic have the necessities to lead safe, healthy lives. To date, he has sent two ambulances, a fire truck, wheel chairs, medicines, school supplies and baseball equipment back home and he is currently raising money to build a police precinct on property he purchased.
2018: Cruz became a US citizen. Despite having played professional baseball in the United States since 2001, Nelson Cruz only became an official US citizen in October, 2018. Nelson’s wife and two kids were already US citizens, so it made sense for him to take the plunge too. Plus, it sounds like he was looking forward to voting in November.
Cruz takes a nap before (almost) every game. Every player has a pre-game ritual, and apparently for Cruz his involves sleeping. He is said to take a nap before every game,typically lasting an hour, but sometimes only 30 or 40 minutes. These are professional naps with blankets (or in a pinch, towels). He reportedly once dreamed about Ichiro Suzuki during a nap before a rather successful game at the plate.
1998: Cruz signed with Mets scout Eddie Toledo, out of the Dominican Republic. He was 17 years old.
Nelson played three seasons in the Dominican Summer League, was traded to the A's and then the Brewers and eventually designated for assignment. He went unclaimed on waivers by all 30 MLB teams before re-signing a Minor League deal with the Rangers in 2008.
December 15, 2004: The Brewers sent INF Keith Ginter to the A's, acquiring Cruz and P Justin Lehr.
July 28, 2006: The Rangers sent outfielders Kevin Mench and Laynce Nix, and pitchers Francisco Cordero and Julian Cordero to the Brewers, acquiring Cruz and OF Carlos Lee.
January 18, 2011: Cruz and the Rangers avoided arbitration, agreeing to a $3.65 million contract, with another $150,000 in bonuses.
February 9, 2012: Nelson and the Rangers agreed on a two-year, $16 million contract, with a signing bonus and $500,000 in performance incentives.
The contract allows Cruz and the Rangers to avoid salary arbitration.
November 4, 2013: The Rangers extended the $14.1 million qualifying offer to Cruz. Nelson wisely declined it while also continuing to negotiate with the team on a multi-year contract.
February 22, 2014: Cruz signed a one-year, $8 million contract with the Orioles. The deal also includes another $750,000 in incentives.
December 1, 2014: Nelson and the Mariners agreed on a four-year, $57 million deal that also includes a $1 million signing bonus.
Oct 29, 2018: Cruz chose free agency.
- Dec 27, 2018: The Twins agreed to a one-year, $14 million deal with Cruz for 2019, with a $12 million club option for '20. If the Twins don't pick up Cruz's option, it would be a $400,000 buyout.
Cruz has solid power to all parts of the park. Though he still tends to try to hit balls farther than over the fence, he is improving. He has a very aggressive swing, strong wrists, and fast hands that generate his fine power.
Cruz hit the 2nd-longest home run of the 2016 season, 473 feet.
Nelson is laying off the high heat and instead takes the ball the other way. Before, he tended to flail at a high fastball, either popping up or striking out on the pitch. Pitchers can still attack the holes in his swing, feeding him offspeed pitches in fastball counts.
In 2008, on the last day of spring training, the Rangers chose Jason Botts over Cruz for the last outfield roster spot. Cruz, out of options, had to pass through waivers to report to Oklahoma, the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate. Any team could have claimed him for $20,000. None did.
Scott Servais, Rangers' organization hitting coach, asked G.M. Jon Daniels if he could fly to Albuquerque, where Oklahoma was playing, and meet with Nelson. "I've got to try something drastic," the former big league catcher said.
Servais changed Cruz's batting stance to a more open position, similar to changes Andres Galarraga and Luis Gonzalez made well into their careers. "The main purpose was to flatten out his swing path," Servais says. "Nellie was a dead low-ball hitter, but he tended to flail at breaking balls, and his swing had a loop to it. To Nellie's credit, he worked hard and he got results with it right away." (Tom Verducci-Sports Illustrated-10/24/11)
The first four games of the 2011 season, Cruz tied a Major League record by hitting a home run in each game. Only Willie Mays and Mark McGwire had hit home runs in each of the first four games of the season. (Interestingly, Nellie had homered in four of his first five games at the start of the 2010 season.)
Nelson's bat is nicknamed "Boomstick" because of his reputation for hitting long home runs.
September 23, 2014:Cruz, who was named the Most Valuable Oriole on the team's became just the sixth player in franchise history to hit the 40-homer mark in a season. Cruz joins Chris Davis, Brady Anderson, Jim Gentile, Frank Robinson and Rafael Palmeiro.
As of the start of the 2014 ALCS (O's vs. Royals), Nelson had joined Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in post-season slugging. He became one of three players with at least 100 plate appearances and a career .700 slugging percentage in the post-season.
August 5, 2015: Cruz's streak of five consecutive games with a homer ended. It was his second five-game streak for the 2015 season. Since 1970, only four other players have done that in a season: Harmon Killebrew (1970 Twins), Frank Thomas (1994 White Sox), Barry Bonds (2001 Giants), and Chase Utley (2008 Phillies).
September 10, 2015: After hitting his 40th home run of the season, Cruz became just the fourth player in club history to accomplish the feat, joining Ken Griffey Jr. (six times), Alex Rodriguez (three times), and Jay Buhner (three times).
- May 28, 2016: We know that Nelson Cruz excels at launching baseballs into ... unorthodox places -- when you've earned the nickname "Boomstick," neither innocent cownose rays nor some poor guy's car is safe. But during batting practice prior to a game against the Twins, Boomstick managed to out-boom himself. He didn't just go where baseballs rarely go, he went where a baseball had never gone: up and completely out of Safeco Field.
... no, seriously, out of Safeco Field. Like, onto the street:Just how far did Cruz's blast travel? It wasn't game action, so there's no way to know for sure. We do know a couple of things, though: 1) Cruz is the first person to ever hit a ball out of Safeco, and 2) through technology, all things are possible:Granted, not the most scientific of estimates, but still: 489 feet! (Chris Landers - Cut 4)
2016 season : The longest recorded Mariners home run, in feet, hit by Nelson Cruz this season, according to Statcast™ measurements. And that blast -- off Tyler Duffey of the Twins at Target Field on Sept. 24 -- stood as the second-longest in MLB for 2016, trailing only a 504-footer by the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton off the Rockies' Chad Bettis on Aug. 6 at Coors Field.
Average exit velocity, in mph, of 375 balls hit by Cruz this season, was the highest mark of any MLB player with 40 or more balls in play.Cano's WAR rating, per Baseball Reference, which ranked fifth among AL players this year and 10th best all-time by a Mariners player. Alex Rodriguez ranks first at 10.4 in 2000, with Ken Griffey, Jr. second at 9.7 in his 1996 MVP season..323 was Cano's batting average on the road, which was the highest of any Mariner. He hit .272 at home.
Nelson launched his 300th career home run in a 3-for-4 night with five RBI.
"It's special," Cruz acknowledged. "I've come a long way. Not only what I did in baseball, but in the Minors and where I came from in the Dominican. Never in my dreams did I think about hitting 300 homers in the big leagues."
Cruz has hit 143 homers in his last 3 1/2 seasons, the most in the Majors since 2014. And 103 of those have come since he signed with Seattle in 2015 on a four-year, $56 million deal.
"I've known Nelson a long time and there's a lot of people in this game that bet that Nelson Cruz would never hit 300 home runs," said Mariners manager Scott Servais, who was the Rangers player personnel director when Cruz was coming up. "He proved a lot of people wrong and we've been the beneficiary here in Seattle of seeing a bunch of them recently.
"He was in a drought for a while. He went 20-some games [24 games] without hitting one. But the sluggers, they usually come in bunches. And he's in a good groove. He's seeing the ball good right now, he's staying behind the ball and it's great. We needed him and our big guys to step up tonight and they certainly did." (Johns - mlb.com - 7/7/17)
November 9, 2017: Cruz won his 1st Silver Slugger Award.
Nov. 30, 2017: Cruz didn't have to venture far to find the perfect role model for how to succeed as a designated hitter.
Major League Baseball announced that the 37-year-old Cruz has been selected as the 2017 winner of the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award, named after the man who has been Cruz's hitting coach with the Mariners for the past two and a half years.
September 12, 2018: Nelson knocked in a run when he belted a mammoth solo shot to left field to earn career RBI No. 1,000. Cruz is now the 11th active player in the 1,000 RBI club, along with teammate Robinson Cano. He joined Ken Griffey Jr., Edgar Martinez and three others as the only players to reach the milestone in a Mariners uniform.
- As of the start of the 2018 season, Cruz had a career batting average of .276 with 323 home runs and 914 RBI in 5,239 at-bats in the Majors.
- Nelson has a great arm for right field. He gets good jumps on the ball and is a fine outfielder.
- Cruz has a really powerful, accurate arm. He can throw a ball on a line from rightfield and hit the catcher right in the chest at home plate.
- April 22, 2019: Cruz had a bug up his fanny after being pulled. And he let the coaching staff know.
"I let them know about it. The other day, they pinch-ran Jonathan Schoop [for me], so I told him when we came here [Houston], we'd run a race and I'd show them that I'm faster." -- Nelson Cruz, who legged out two infield singles in a game for the eighth time in his career
May 21, 2005: Cruz was on the D.L. after he slipped on a muddy field while rounding first base during a home run trot.
- June 14, 2008: Nelson suffered a biceps strain while with the Oklahoma RedHawks (PCL-Rangers).
August 2008: Cruz was on the D.L. for just over a week.
July 18, 2009: Nelson had a fracture at the base of his right ring finger that he suffered after he hit a roller down the first-base line, made a nifty move to avoid Joe Nathan's tag, and then dove safely into first base, fracturing the finger doing so.
"I didn't plan on diving into the bag," Cruz said. "I just reacted."
He played with the pain, not going on the D.L.
August 4-21, 2009: Cruz was on the D.L. with a sprained left ankle.
April 26-May 14, 2010: Nelson was on the D.L. with a strained right hamstring.
May 30-June 22, 2010: Cruz was back on the D.L., this time with a strained left hamstring.
August 16-30, 2010: Nelson was on the D.L. with a strained left hamstring, again. He injured it running the bases. He hit a line drive off the wall in the seventh inning and slowed as he rounded second and head toward third base for a triple. He was taken out of the game following the inning.
May 4-23, 2011: Cruz was on the D.L. because of a strained right quad muscle. He first felt it while running out a groundball.
August 29-September 13, 2011: Nelson was on the D.L. after an MRI revealed a Grade 1 strain of his left hamstring. Cruz received a PRP injection from Rangers physician Dr. Keith Meister to stimulate the healing process.
Nelson injured the hamstring as he rounded first base on a double to lead off the sixth inning. Cruz pulled up a few steps past the first base bag and grimaced. He was taken out of the game and went to the clubhouse for treatment.
March 1, 2013: Cruz spent a few hours at an Arizona hospital after experiencing discomfort in his chest. It was a muscle strain near his chest. But he was back to work a day later.
- April 3-14, 2018:The Mariners placed designated hitter Nelson Cruz on the 10-day disabled list after he sprained his right ankle when he slipped on the dugout steps at Safeco Field.
- May 14, 2019: Cruz was on the IL with left wrist strain.