Nelson Cruz returns to Mariners lineup for 4th of July game vs Royals

Jul 4, 2017, 12:53 PM | Updated: 1:05 pm
Five-time All-Star Nelson Cruz returns to the Mariners' lineup for Tuesday's game. (AP)...
Five-time All-Star Nelson Cruz returns to the Mariners' lineup for Tuesday's game. (AP)

Nelson Cruz’s knee not only felt good enough for him to get an at-bat late in Monday’s game against the Kansas City Royals, but also for the slugger to get a start at designated hitter Tuesday for the first time since suffering the injury Saturday.

Cruz is in the Mariners’ lineup for Game 2 of their series against the Royals on the Fourth of July, manning his customary designated hitter spot and hitting cleanup for Seattle in the 3:40 game on 710 ESPN Seattle.

“Didn’t know if he’d be available today or not and I was quite frankly kinda surprised when I got the message that he was gonna be available to pinch hit halfway through the game,” manager Scott Servais said before Tuesday’s game. “I think they found something to free up some of the pain. He felt good, felt good in the cage. He’s ready to go today.”

Cruz injured his right knee while sliding into second base in Saturday’s 4-0 loss in Anaheim, leaving the game after making just one plate appearance. He was out of the lineup Sunday, the same day he was named to his fifth All-Star team, and then struck out in the seventh inning of Monday’s 3-1 loss vs. Kansas City.

The Mariners have an extra outfielder on the roster in Boog Powell, who was called up Sunday and remains with the team in case of any other complications with Cruz’s knee.

The knee injury isn’t the first issue this season to bother to the 37-year-old Cruz, who missed a pair of games in June with a sore calf.

Also in the Mariners’ lineup is Taylor Motter in left field and Guillermo Heredia in center field, with Jarrod Dyson and Ben Gamel both sitting against Kansas City lefty Danny Duffy. With Gamel out, first baseman Danny Valencia is hitting second. Additionally, Carlos Ruiz will catch with Mike Zunino getting the day game after a night game off.

Coverage of Mariners-Royals begins at 3:30 on 710 ESPN Seattle. Here are the full lineups.

Mariners (41-43)

Jean Segura, SS
Danny Valencia, 1B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Nelson Cruz, DH
Kyle Seager, 3B
Mitch Haniger, RF
Guillermo Heredia, CF
Carlos Ruiz, C
Taylor Motter, LF

Felix Hernandez, RHP

Royals (42-40)

Whit Merrifield, 2B
Jorge Bonifacio, RF
Lorenzo Cain, CF
Eric Hosmer, 1B
Salvador Perez, C
Mike Moustakas, 3B
Brandon Moss, DH
Alcides Escobar, SS
Alex Gordon, LF

Danny Duffy, LHP

Date Starting Pitcher
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