Nelson Cruz has spent his entire career to this point playing in the American League, but he is part of a National League club now, and he’s brought the AL rules with him. Or something like that. Anyway, Cruz, 41, is making his debut with the Washington Nationals tonight in the Grapefruit League matchup with the club’s NL East rivals, the New York Mets.
Now the DH in D.C. can start getting to know National League pitchers, though with all the player movement these days it’s probably not as big a deal as it might once have been, but Cruz did tell reporters earlier this week that it is a consideration.
“Definitely. I think that’s the biggest challenge, you know, facing new pitches that basically maybe I’ve seen once in my career, I have to trust the scouting reports and watch video,” he explained.
“That’s what my preparation looks like on a daily basis, before I go to bed, when I show up to the stadium, I want to have a pretty good idea what to expect from pitchers, and I will figure it out.”
So while some of us are still lamenting the inevitable arrival of the universal DH, Nationals’ manager Davey Martinez is excited to have Cruz in his lineup, and though he has shared a preference for old school, NL-style baseball in the past, he said this week that he is okay if pitchers don’t have to (try to) hit anymore.
“All of them can tell you that they can hit,” Martinez explained incredulously. “I already told [Sean] Doolittle, thank goodness you don’t have to hit anymore. But they’re all going to lobby to hit. Josiah [Gray] says he’s a good hitter, they all say they’re good hitters. I’m just glad they don’t have to hit.”
Gray will be on the mound tonight, taking on the Mets, in his 2022 Grapefruit League debut.
It all gets started at 6:05 PM from West Palm Beach. Radio only again, via MLB.com. Here’s the Nationals’ lineup: