Nelson Cruz went 2 for 3 with a walk, K, and run scored in Saturday night’s win over the San Diego Padres, and the second of the 42-year-old, 18-year veteran’s hits was No. 2,000 in his career, in 1,984 games.
“According to the Elias Sports Bureau,” the Nationals wrote in their post game notes on the curly-W, “... Cruz became the first player to reach the 2,000 hit mark in a Nationals uniform (2005-[present]).”
“His first hit came on Sept. 28, 2005 with Milwaukee vs. Cincinnati, a double off Aaron Harang.
“His 1,000th hit was a single off Brad Boxberger on May 26, 2015 at Tampa Bay as a member of the Seattle Mariners.”
His 2,000th came off Padres’ reliever Adrian Morejon.
On the year, Cruz finished the night on Saturday with a .236/.320/.342 line, 15 doubles, and eight home runs in 102 games and 417 plate appearances in his first year with the Nationals after signing a 1-year/$15M free agent deal this spring.
“It’s special, you know” Cruz told reporters after the Nats’ win.
“You always have thoughts about it, but it’s different to be in reality. And just, I had to play for a long time to get 2,000 hits. So it’s definitely an honor.”
“It’s great,” manager Davey Martinez told reporters in his on post game press conference in Nationals Park. “Just think about it — we were talking about how a quarter of his hits (22.85%) were homers. But to get 2,000 hits, and to do it as long as he’s done it, it’s just amazing to me. He’s been such an unbelievable player. I watched him playing from the other side, and saw him playing. And when he was younger, he did it all. He could steal a base, he could play good defense, he could hit, and to watch him compete now in his at-bats, and hit, for our kids, our young guys to learn from him, I mean, watch him, watch his at-bats, it’s really good.”
Cruz pointed to his health over the years as an obvious reason he was able to reach the new milestone.
“I guess health, you know, be able to stay healthy, and that’s how you can play for many years, health is the key. The other things, I guess, you work through the years, and thank God he gave me the health and the strength to play that many years,” Cruz said.
His manager’s take?
“For me, he puts himself in a good position to hit every ball, he really does,” Martinez said.
“He doesn’t get cheated up there. He sees the ball and lets it go. And that’s something I talked to Keibert [Ruiz] about. If you’re going to swing, swing. If it’s a bad pitch, even if you miss it, just swing at it. And he does that every at-bat, you see him take good, healthy cuts, every at-bat.”
Thinking back on that first hit, all the way back in 2005, Cruz said, “... definitely the first hit is more exciting than 2,000. You always want to get the first one, that’s the signature that you play in the big leagues.”
When the game ended on Saturday night, the Nationals celebrated Cruz’s achievement, and his manager saw his chance for some light-hearted revenge.
“In LA, when I got my 300th win,” Martinez explained, “he hit me with a pie in the face, so I snuck today and got him.
“So, I was pretty proud of myself. It was just a shaving cream pie with a towel, but it was covered, I got him good today, so I was happy about that.”
How’d Cruz handle it?
“Laughing,” Martinez told reporters. “He said, ‘You got me.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I got you. I loved it.”