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Nelson Cruz focused on strengthening legs

Nelson Cruz is trying something different this offseason. As was the case last year, Cruz is focused on strengthening his legs in an attempt to avoid injuries. But this offseason he's doing it at a workout center in Miami with teammates Mike Napoli and Leonys Martin. He's been there nearly a month now.

“I feel like I’m in better shape right now than in the past,” Cruz said. “I expect a big performance of myself and nothing less than going back to the World Series.”

Cruz said he went to the Dominican Republic shortly after the playoffs ended and picked up a virus that bothered him for a few months, causing him to lose weight. He came back to the United States and said he was treated and feels better. Cruz said he weighs about 224 pounds and wants to be at 230, about 10 pounds lighter than his weight in 2011, when spring training starts.

Cruz has been on the disabled list five times the past two seasons, four of those stints because of hamstring issues (the other a quad muscle). He said football players preparing for the NFL combine also work out at this facility in Miami and that he can feel his legs are in better shape.

"Everything I do in there is new for me," Cruz said. "I feel like my legs are definitely stronger and more flexible. It’s going to be a huge difference in what I do [than] in the past."

This is the second straight offseason that Cruz hasn't played Winter ball. Last offseason, he worked on his running style to try to guard against hamstring injuries. This offseason, it's more about the strength and going through a different workout program. He sounded like he couldn't wait to see the results at spring training in a few weeks.