BALTIMORE -- Nelson Cruz spent just one year in Baltimore. What a year it was. Cruz led the major leagues in home runs with 40, and was named the Most Valuable Oriole.
Now, he returns for the first time this season with the Seattle Mariners. Cruz is off to a terrific start, batting .340 with 15 home runs and 30 RBIs.
He signed a four-year, $57 million contract with the Mariners, and spent Monday at Manny Machado’s charity bowling tournament and Tuesday greeting ex-teammates and friends.
“Good memories. I had a good time. I think we accomplished something special. It’s always nice to see my ex-teammates and come and see the fans, also,” Cruz said.
“It was a blast. It was a blast. We accomplished something very special as a team. We had a great time, great organization, great teammates. They treated me very well.”
Manager Buck Showalter had Cruz in Texas in 2006 and again last year.
“He handled himself with a lot of class here. Everybody would have liked to have had him,” Showalter said. “We’re very lucky he passed our way. “
Cruz signed a one-year, $8 million contract in Feb. 2014, and had a great season.
“The year was very special. We don’t win the division since ’97 and to bring that joy to the fans, was nice.”
Seattle and the Orioles have similar records (17-20 vs. 16-19), and Cruz doesn’t think Orioles fans should worry.
“I think, remember last year, around this time we kind of struggled as a team, but we found a way to get it done. It’s early, you know. They still have a pretty good team,” Cruz said.
He isn’t concerned about fans’ reaction.
“Love, hopefully. Until I do something to [annoy] them, but hopefully love,” Cruz said.
He returned to Texas, where he had played eight years last June and had a similar feeling.
“It was weird like it’s going to be today, but maybe the first at-bat is going to be different, but after that, it’s another game. You have to move on,” Cruz said.
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