SEATTLE -- Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz didn't get the benefit of a rehab assignment before returning to the lineup. So it's not a surprise that his timing was off on Saturday as he played in a full game for the first time since coming back. Cruz had one hit, but also struck out twice. He could play right field on Tuesday in Oakland, but Washington still hasn't fully decided that.
"I was hoping the timing would be there, but I expected it wouldn't be there," Cruz said. "I don't know when it will come back. Could be any time."
Cruz said he was trying to get comfortable, which was one reason he kept switching between using batting gloves and going without them.
Manager Ron Washington just wants to see his outfielder take care of his hamstring and get some at-bats in. He'll see how he does on Sunday before making any decisions about when he plays right field. But when Cruz does go to the outfield, Josh Hamilton will shift to center and David Murphy will be in left. Endy Chavez and Craig Gentry will be off the bench.
He dropped him to eighth in the lineup while Cruz works on his timing.
"I can’t put him in front of all those other guys right now until he starts swinging the bat," Washington said. "He’s not an eighth hitter, but he’s got to get some at-bats. Once he starts to get comfortable I can move him up in the linep, but I can’t put him in front of Nap and Murphy right now.
"How can you miss all the time he missed and think you can step in and hit major-league pitching. He’s gonna have to fight. By the time he gets 10 or 12 at-bats, I think he’ll be fine. They’ll be pitchers step on that rubber and give him his stuff back."
* Leonys Martin has to stay in the United States this offseason, so he could end up playing winter ball in Puerto Rico. Craig Gentry and Esteban German are among Rangers who are likely to play in the Dominican Republic when the season ends.
* Fantasy football was the topic of the day in the Rangers clubhouse early Sunday. Games were on the TVs and players were toting iPads and following their teams.
* The Rangers have their final off day of the regular season on Monday.