Nelson Cruz left the second of three with the Cubs in Wrigley when something with his right shoulder didn’t feel right. Cruz was 4 for his last 13 over four games, and 0 for 2 on the night before his manager pulled him from the lineup after five innings in the 2nd of 3 in Chicago.
“He has a right posterior [shoulder] soreness,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters after the Nationals’ 6-5 win over the Cubbies on Tuesday. “I saw him take a couple swings, and he kind of grimaced a little bit. He came out and he tried to go in the cage and see if he could work it out, but it stiffened up on him, so we’ll see how he feels tomorrow, but I didn’t want to take any chances.”
Cruz, 42, and in his 18th season in the majors, stayed with the club when, at least when he signed this winter, he was viewed as a potential trade chip at the deadline, with Nationals’ GM Mike Rizzo explaining after he didn’t get dealt why the club decided to hang on to the DH, who had a combined .233/.318/.342 line with 15 doubles and eight home runs over 99 games and 408 plate appearances on the season before Wednesday’s game.
“Nelly Cruz is such a mentor and such a presence in the clubhouse,” Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies last week, “... especially with our younger Latin players that I wasn’t just gonna give him away for nothing just to move on. He likes it here. He wanted to be here. He’s a terrific teammate and leader in the clubhouse. So we didn’t get the level of prospect that we wanted for him, so we kept him.”
Cruz signed a 1-year/$15M free agent deal with the club back in March, and as Martinez told reporters on Tuesday night, he didn’t look right at the plate, so they took the cautious route and took the veteran slugger out of the game.
“I saw him take a swing and he didn’t look right, and then he took another swing, and on a high fastball he came in and he was kind trying to stretch it out, and we asked him what was going on and he said he felt something in his back shoulder tighten up on him, so he tried to hit in the cage, he just couldn’t get it loose, so we decided to get him out of there and get him checked on.”
His manager decided to give him another day off in the finale with the Cubs yesterday.
“Especially with the quick turnaround,” Martinez explained, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman, with a day game for the finale in Wrigley. “We played last night, and he had to come out of the game. I thought regardless of how he felt, maybe to give him a day today would be good. I talked to him this morning and he said: ‘Let me get loose, let me get ready and I’ll be available to pinch-hit later.’”
Cruz did get a pinch hit appearance late in the series finale with the Cubs, and he lined a 2-out single to center to keep the inning alive with the Nationals trailing, 4-2, at the time...
MENESES TO SOCIETY:
Joey Meneses had to wait till he was 30 before he finally got to make his MLB debut, then he waited just three plate appearances before he hit his first major league home run in a 5-1 win over the New York Mets back on August 2nd.
Going into yesterday’s series finale in Wrigley Field, Meneses was 6 for 20 (.300/.333/.750), with three home runs in 21 PAs after he homered in each of the first two games on the road in the Windy City.
Before he was called up from Triple-A Rochester, he’d hit 20 homers in 96 games and 414 PAs in his first season in the Nationals’ system.
“We saw him in Spring Training here and there,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said when he was asked if the power from Meneses surprised him.
“He came up and played, and he swung the bat well, and he went to Rochester, and he swung the bat really well at Rochester. What I really didn’t know is how well he handles himself, whether it’s first base, right field, left field, he does all the little things, and his arm, his arm is really good out there. So, you know, he’s doing well, he’s been up here and he’s working hard and he’s doing really well right now.”
Meneses homered again in the series finale in Chicago, connecting for his fourth home run since coming up, and earning a spot in the Nationals’ franchise record books...
#Nats Stats (via @NationalsPR): "Joey Meneses is the 1st #Nationals player to homer four times in his first seven career Major League games. Danny Espinosa and Geoff Blum each homered three times in their first seven career MLB games." - Note, yes, Blum did it for the Expos. #eMb— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) August 10, 2022
“It’s awesome,” Martinez said of the run Meneses has been on to start his big league career.
“And he’s working some really good at-bats, he really is.
And we saw what he did in the minor leagues, driving the ball, but you know he’s got a great approach up there. With two strikes you see him trying to stay on the ball and hit the ball the other way. When he gets ahead in the count he really can juice the baseball. He’s having a lot of fun out there, he enjoys it.
“It’s funny, we talked before the game and I [asked], ‘How do you like really feel?’
Joey Meneses simply cannot stop homering. pic.twitter.com/O0yAsmTBnH— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 10, 2022
“And he said, ‘Oh, man this is really an awesome place, you know,’” referring to Wrigley Field.
“And I said, ‘I’ll tell you something,’ I said, ‘Any stadium in the major leagues is awesome just as long as you have that uniform on. He goes, ‘You are absolutely right.’
“But it’s good to see it man. He waited a long time, and he’s getting an opportunity and he’s making the best of it.”