Clubhouse notes: Cruz, Nippert ready

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Nelson Cruz was pleased to see his name on the lineup card for Tuesday's game with the Pirates.

"It's been a long time," Cruz said.

It has. He went on the disabled list on May 29 and now, on June 22, has returned following rehab for a strained left hamstring (he strained the right one earlier this season).

Cruz said he's working hard to make sure this isn't a recurring problem and he said he feels completely normal now. He said he hasn't felt that way since just after spring training.

"I'm excited to get back," Cruz said. "I've enjoyed seeing the guys playing well and hopefully I can contribute."

Manager Ron Washington talked about the importance of Cruz's presence in the lineup and around the clubhouse. And he also said the club will carefully monitor Cruz. There's no plan to hamper his playing time, but Washington said they would consider getting him more days off if they felt it might protect his health a little more.

Cruz slots in just behind the red-hot Josh Hamilton. He's batting sixth tonight.

Other notes:

* Dustin Nippert starts tomorrow. He's been treated as a starter for the last few days, getting his regular work in to prepare for Wednesday's outing. Washington said the club is comfortable with Nippert, who could stay in the rotation until others -- like Derek Holland and Rich Harden -- are healthy.

"There's not a whole lot of drama with him," Washington said about Nippert. "We know what we've got with him. He'll be ready."

* Washington had praise for Julio Borbon, who has started to hit the ball much better in recent weeks. He was 12-for-31 with three doubles, a triple, a homer and four RBIs on the recent road trip. Washington sees a player with more confidence.

"He isn't doing anything differently, except that he's getting results," Washington said. "He was tenative and now he's not. Confidence has a lot to do with that."