ARLINGTON, Texas -- Nelson Cruz came into the clubhouse Saturday afternoon feeling better after he took a knee to his left side on a slide into second base late in Friday's game. Cruz was on the ground for a moment, and manager Ron Washington was worried that perhaps he had pulled something. But Cruz got up and continued to play. He's in the lineup today and ready to go.
Cruz has managed to stay healthy all season. And that's a big step for him. He was on the disabled list twice last season and three times in 2010 with hamstring or quad muscle strains. But this year he's played in 154 games, tops of anyone on the team.
"That's good," Cruz said. "I've stayed healthy. I've played a lot of games. I want to be on the field and that was my goal before the season and I'm glad I could play that many games."
Washington has relied on Cruz while others have needed breaks for injuries. And all along he's wondered if a patented Cruz hot streak -- and when Cruz is hot he can be searing, just ask the Detroit Tigers from last year's ALCS -- would surface. It hasn't really happened yet this season, but Cruz is showing signs. He's had consecutive multi-hit games, is using the big part of the field for extra-base hits and hit a home run Friday, ending a 21-game drought.
"I feel good (at the plate)," Cruz said. "I've had ups and downs. The whole season has been like that. It's good to finish strong, especially the five games we have left. Hopefully, I can do it like I have the past two days."
Cruz said that every time he hits the ball well, he thinks a streak is coming and he hasn't been able to sustain it. Still, he's put up solid numbers. He's got 23 home runs and 88 RBIs. The RBIs are a career high. Cruz is batting .262 with 136 strikeouts, which is also a career-high.
"He's durable," Washington said. "He wants to play. In batting practice, he does what he should do. He tries to stay in the big part of the field. It's transferring that to the field that's the key."
* Martin Perez is currently in the bullpen. If he's not needed, he would start Monday. Washington obviously wants to get the game in today. Rain would likely mean a day-night doubleheader and would complicate the pitching situation. If Perez doesn't start Monday, Scott Feldman, Justin Grimm or perhaps Roy Oswalt could be candidates.
"We don't know what's going to happen," Washington said. "We have to play this string out and see what happens. But it's all hands on deck."
* Robbie Ross has struggled lately and Washington said he thinks much of that is Ross' inability to throw inside to right-handed batters. The skipper wants to see Ross use that cutter more to the glove side. Right-handed batters are hitting .241 against Ross while lefties are batting .220.