Written by DrShorebird
SARASOTA (February 25)… Nelson Cruz was introduced at a well-attended 9:30 AM press conference. One reason it was so well attended was that several teammates were also in attendance. I have attended pressers before where one or two teammates were invited, or a coach or two, or front office staff, but I have never witnessed so many players at a press conference for a new player. The obvious message was that Cruz’ addition to the team was welcomed by his teammates and that they felt Cruz had properly atoned for his PED-related violation and has been put in the past. Players attending the presser included former Ranger’s teammate Chris Davis. Also included were Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Matt Wieters, Tommy Hunter, Manny Machado, Darren O'Day and hitting coach Jim Presley.
Later during the press conference, Cruz refered to the support shown by his new teammates with "We are now a family and we're going to stick together the whole time… I look forward to having a great year with the Baltimore Orioles"
During the presser, Manager Buck Showalter remarked, “I'm real proud of the way he's evolved not only as a player, but as a person and teammate. The one common denominator when you talk to people about Nelson is about his relationship with his teammates and his city. This is one of the most popular players in Texas. He's a real sincere guy. It's one of those things where he'll show you, not talk about it. That part of the equation we felt real good about. And any time you've got first-hand knowledge of a guy, the way he conducts himself, you feel real good about that part. The only thing you want to have challenge guys is the game itself, and he has a way of making his teammates better by the way he treats them."
Orioles Executive Vice President, Baseball Operations, Dan Duquette added "We're glad to have Nelson. Nelson is a proven slugger. He's one of the few guys who has hit over 20 home runs over the last five years and you heard from his former team what a great teammate he is. He's a real solid addition to our team both personally and by what he brings on the field."
Duquette had opened the presser by pointing out, “Nelson is a power hitter, he does very well against both left- and right-handed pitching. He's also been a clutch performer in the playoffs, where he's hit over 14 home runs in 34 games and distinguished himself in 2011 as the MVP of the ALCS. He has an excellent arm on defense and is a proven solid dependable performer in the American League. He presents a good presence in the middle of the lineup, which will extend our lineup and make our team more formidable.”
After the press conference Duquette remarked that “With Nelson, we got one of the top sluggers in the American League. Last year Nelson was on a pace to hit over 40 HR We think he be a great addition to our lineup and make the team more entertaining. Now we’ve got five or six players who can hit over twenty HR, which will keep us in good standing in the American League. Buck can use the DH spot to keep players rested and sharp. His big bat in the middle of our line-up will extend the line-up and allow Buck to place other batters in their appropriate hitting slots. This will make our line-up a lot harder for the American League to deal with. Last year late in the season, we had several of our players get a little tired, and I think with the addition of Nelson Cruz, who is an everyday player, will help those players play defense in September and October. We are getting well-armed for the pennant race.”
Cruz’ role is not yet carved in stone, but Manager Buck Showalter will probably use him mostly as a DH with some time spent as OF. Showalter remarked, “We're going to keep everybody in the flow and see how the club shakes out…Sometimes you don't know exactly how it's going to work out. His acquisition helps me keep everybody healthy as we go forward."
Not surprisingly, Cruz added the politically correct, “I’m just happy to be in the lineup. Whatever they think is going to help the team do better, I'm prepared to do it.”
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