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Nelson Cruz feels he ‘came up short’ by not seeing Mariners to playoffs

Nelson Cruz hit at least 37 home runs in each of his four seasons with the Mariners. (Getty)

It’s not often a former player comes into town with his new team and receives a warm welcome, but that’s what greeted Minnesota Twins slugger Nelson Cruz in his first return to Seattle Thursday night.

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The ex-Mariner joined 710 ESPN Seattle’s Danny, Dave and Moore Friday from T-Mobile Park, where Seattle will continue its three-game series against Cruz’s Twins this evening (though Cruz, sidelined by injury, will be out of the lineup).

The Mariners honored Cruz with a video during the series opener Thursday.

“It was really emotional to watch the video,” Cruz said. “I haven’t been able to come to the clubhouse yet… it can really touch you. You come in through the home (clubhouse) so many times, and to come as a visitor is kind of different.”

Even though he’s with a new club, Cruz says he keeps in touch with his former teammates, including those no longer in Seattle.

“We talk a lot… even the guys that are not here like Robbie (Canó ), (Alex) Colomé, (Jean) Segura. We keep in touch, make sure everybody’s good and communicating. I talked to (Kyle) Seager two days ago. He was going to be sad because he wasn’t going to be here when I came. But yeah, we care for each other. It’s something that even if you’re not on the same team you want those guys to be good.”

Here are a few highlights from Cruz’s interview (listen to the full interview in the audio clip embedded above):

You’ve always been described as so nice. What does that mean to you to hear that? “Well, do something good. I think my dad taught me you have to treat everybody equally, respect everybody, you always want to treat others like you want to be treated. And just be yourself. I don’t think you do it to be recognized, it’s something that’s just is with you.”

When did it become clear to you that Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto was set on rebuilding, and you might end up elsewhere? How tough was that? “It’s always tough. It’s not the first time it’s happened to me, but even then you want everything to come up and be perfect. I came here with the desire to win and take the team to the playoffs, and I feel like I came up short. So I want another chance to at least try to do it again, you know? You’ve got to compete, and even failing you keep going, you want to do it. But like I said, I understand it’s part of the business. They tried to go a different way and as a player you can’t do anything else but to find another place to go.”

I saw you went to Chief Sealth high school and handed out some scholarships to some student athletes: “Yeah, we’ve been working with them for the last three years, four years, giving scholarships. I go there and talk to the kids about the importance of education. They’re coming to the ballpark today to watch the ballgame. So I just wanted to (follow up with) them before I came to the stadium, to come say hi and see how they’re doing.”

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