Nelson Cruz runs bases, eyes return

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz is getting closer to a return from a strained left hamstring. He ran the bases for the first time on Friday afternoon and is expected to run them again on Saturday.

"I ran at about 80 percent," Cruz said. "I feel good. I'll see how it goes this weekend. I'm excited because that means I'm close."

If the Rangers still have Double-A or Triple-A affiliates in the playoffs early next week, Cruz could go to one of those teams for a rehab assignment to get some swings before returning to the Rangers lineup. It's possible he could join the club at some point during the Cleveland series (Tuesday through Thursday), though the team is not putting any timetable on it.

"I'd like to see him play a few games, but if that's not possible, we'll see where he is," Washington said. "If not, he'll have to go cold."

Cruz was put on the disabled list retroactive to Aug. 30 and is eligible to return on Sept. 13. At the time of the injury, the Rangers believed he was three weeks away. But Cruz has been progressing ahead of schedule the entire time. He said he feels good and knows what to expect thanks to three hamstring strains in 2010 that cost him three separate DL stints.

Cruz is hitting .270 with a team-high 28 homers. He has 84 RBIs, second-most on the team. Ian Kinsler's tear (seven homers in past seven games) has put him tied with Cruz for the home run lead on the team.

Richard Durrett covers the Rangers for ESPNDallas.com.