Nelson Cruz will represent the Mariners at the All-Star Game on July 11, and for now, he’s the only Mariner heading to Miami.
“It’s always exciting,” Cruz said Sunday afternoon. “I have to thank the fans, the Mariners organization, they all pulled for that. Thanks everyone for the effort; it never gets old. You are always excited to be a part of that.”
Cruz, who led all American League designated hitters in fan voting up until the last balloting update when he was passed by Tampa Bay’s Corey Dickerson, gets the nod anyway. While his power numbers have cooled in the last few weeks, manager Scott Servais is happy to see his DH get the honor.
“Having him in our lineup, we have seen when he is not in there we are a much different team,” Servais said. “Even more than the numbers, being around the clubhouse every day, what he means to the team, his ability to lead by example but also being vocal at times. He is into the game. He’s not worried about his at-bats or numbers. The other players feel it. His leadership goes a long way in our clubhouse and I appreciate that as much as the numbers.”
Despite not hitting a home run since June 4, Cruz has still driven in 14 runs in 22 games since then. While he has missed four games and been slowed with leg issues for the majority of the season, he is second in the AL with 58 RBIs. He hopes the knee injury he suffered Saturday night while sliding into second will not keep him from an appearance in the All-Star Game. One thing he will not be participating in is the Home Run Derby.
“I feel that’s not fair for the fans, for my teammates, for me to feel tired for five days,” he said. “I went once. I feel it is a great experience for the fans and players who haven’t gone. Once you go and you know what it is and you better rest and prepare for the second half.”
Cruz is looking forward to the opportunity in his fifth All Star Game to spend time with and pick the brains of players from other teams. He is hoping that when all is said and done as replacement players are needed, he will not be going alone.
“I thought for sure Robbie (Cano) should go and we have got other good players who have good numbers, too: (Jean) Segura, (Ben) Gamel,” he pointed out.
Solo or with teammates, All-Star week is a frenzy with signing events, media sessions, a parade and a lot of back and forth. Still, the joy of having family and friends there outweighs the extra couple of days of rest he would get if he hadn’t been selected. Cruz is especially looking forward to the atmosphere with the game being played so close to the Dominican Republic.
“I think it is going to be great,” he said. “I know like the WBC a lot of Dominicans will go and it will be fun.”