SHANNON DRAYER

Work in minor league games proving valuable for Mariners’ Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Ryon Healy

Mar 24, 2018, 8:26 AM | Updated: 9:46 am
mariners, nelson cruz...
Mariners' DH Nelson Cruz is entering his fourteenth season as a pro. (AP)
(AP)

PEORIA, Ariz. – Overshadowed a bit by Ichiro Suzuki getting hit in the helmet by a pitch on Friday was the work that was put in by three other Mariners on the mend.

While it was a tough day for Ichiro, who will be re-assessed Saturday to determine his game readiness, it was a good day for Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Ryon Healy, who were able to get 7-8 at-bats each split between two minor league games on adjacent fields.

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For Cruz and Cano, the priority has been to get their legs healthy with Cruz dealing with a quad strain and Cano a hamstring strain. Had this been the regular season we most likely would have seen them return much sooner. Because it is spring training, they can come back slowly and build up quickly with the ability to get extra at-bats in minor league games.

“It’s about how I feel,” said Cruz after his day at the plate, which included two mammoth home runs. “Stay healthy, that’s the goal of opening day. It was good.”

While we haven’t seen a lot of Cruz in games the last two weeks, and he appeared to be struggling with his timing before the injury, he said he has been able to get the work he needs to be ready for opening day.

“Everything is there,” he said. “It’s just a matter of seeing pitches. Overall, everything feels good.”

Cano, who also took eight at-bats in minor league games on Monday, echoed what Cruz said about staying healthy. The two have been doing daily work in the pool to strengthen their legs, and Cano has been seen taking early work on the field as well under the watch of Dr. Lorena Martin.

“She’s been very good,” Cano said. “We have been doing some exercises to keep my hamstrings, legs and core stronger, especially after that injury. She goes out to make sure I do it right.”

The addition of someone who can help keep the Mariners healthy on the field is a resource Cano is going to use. When she introduced a couple of new exercises, he listened.

“It’s been good,” he said. “She’s professional, she went to school. The big thing is when you have someone and they want to be involved, they know what they are doing. She knows what she is doing.”

And how do the legs feel now?

“Good!” Cano said, with his trademark smile.

In addition to Cano and Cruz, Healy got his work in as well. While he has had a number of at-bats in Cactus League games since his return, Healy wanted the opportunity to see more pitches along with taking some swings. In fact he asked for some pitches just to watch.

“I want to make sure I see plenty of pitches,” Healy said. “Track a lot of pitches, making sure I am recognizing spin, inside, outside. Just make sure you get your strike zone awareness back and you are on time.”

As for the swings, he connected, going 4 for 7, and he came away from the afternoon of work feeling he had made good progress.

“The important thing is to feel like I am having competitive at-bats,” he said. “To be able to get a bulk amount of at-bats for us is really big.”

All three players are expected to take Friday’s work into the major league game Saturday against the Cubs.

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Work in minor league games proving valuable for Mariners’ Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano and Ryon Healy