06/24/09 10:00 PM ET
Struggling Cruz gets a breather
Rangers outfielder trying to shake funk at plate
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
Cruz was out of the lineup as the Rangers prepared to play the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Brandon Boggs was in left field, while David Murphy moved to right against D-backs righty Danny Haren."He seems a little sluggish, so I'm going to give him a day off," Washington said. Just about everybody in the Rangers' lineup has struggled in June, but Cruz may be leading the way. His .183 batting average was the seventh-lowest mark for the month among qualifiers in the American League. He had four home runs and nine RBIs, but his on-base percentage was .256 and his slugging percentage was .394. "I've been doing everything the same since the start of the season," Cruz said. "I just got in a slump. That's part of it." Washington thought Cruz might be trying too hard to hit home runs. "Sometimes when you get a little tired, you compensate by swinging hard," Washington said. "I just think he needs a break." Said Cruz, "I don't know. I'm trying to hit my singles and if the ball goes out ... if you're doing bad, you see different things, but I'm trying to get my singles. I'm not thinking about home runs. They just come." The other part is Cruz, hitting in the middle of the lineup, could be impacted more than anybody by the absence of Josh Hamilton in front of him. With Hamilton in the lineup, Cruz was the Rangers' Player of Month for May, hitting .311 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs. He had a .368 on-base percentage and a .631 slugging percentage. "Everybody misses Josh since he got hurt," Cruz said. "We need him more than before. We're struggling, so we need more offense." Cruz was hitless in his last 13 at-bats prior to getting Wednesday's breather and had just one hit in his last 16 at-bats with runners in scoring position. This is his first full season in the Major Leagues, but since being recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma at the end of July 2007, Cruz has played in 152 Major League games and is hitting .282 with 31 home runs and 93 RBIs. "I still feel great," Cruz said. "I always come positive to the field no matter what happens the day before. Everybody here is in a slump. ... We've got to come positive every day with a good attitude that we're going to get out of it." Washington also used Hank Blalock at first base instead of Chris Davis on Wednesday because he wanted a veteran with experience in there against Haren. Washington said Davis is expected back on Thursday against Jon Garland. That will also be the Rangers' last game without a designated hitter, as it is their final game of Interleague Play in a National League park.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.