Nelson Cruz bounced his 10th home run of his 18th major league season off the WESTERN METAL SUPPLY CO.’s painted sign atop the third deck of the warehouse in left field in San Diego’s Petco Park.
Cruz hit it some 440 feet from home for a monster shot and Washington’s only run in a 2-1 loss to the Padres.
“It feels good, especially to get the lead,” Cruz, 42, said of the blast which put the Nationals up 1-0 early in the series finale, as quoted by MASN’s Mark Zuckerman.
“Unfortunately, we don’t get a W. That’s what really matters.”
True. True. But seriously, did you see how hard and far he hit it?
“It was a bomb,” Nats’ skipper Davey Martinez said of the moonshot off of Cruz’s bat.
“I thought it was going to go on top of the roof, I really did. But he smoked it. What was it 113 MPH [exit velocity]? Yeah, I’ve seen him do that a lot though, but it was a bomb.”
AN ABSOLUTE CRUZ MISSILE pic.twitter.com/KrzEUCQft3— Washington Nationals (@Nationals) August 21, 2022
It was 113.3 MPH off the bat according to Baseball Savant, and he also hit a 112 MPH groundout in his first at-bat, but the home run had his teammates in awe.
“There was a lot of, ‘Wow!’” Martinez said of reaction to the home run in the Nats’ dugout. “I mean, really was. Like I said, as soon as he hit it it sounded like a cannon went off.”
Cruz wasn’t supposed to be with the Nats at this point. Signed to a 1-year/$15M free agent deal this past March, the expectation was the 18-year veteran would end up getting traded at the deadline earlier this month, with the DH a potential chip for the rebooting ballclub.
Nelson Cruz on hitting HR off Western Metal Supply Co. building in LF at Petco Park: "It's definitely a nice ballpark, very unique, different than most of the stadiums. When it goes that far and it lands in that type of place it's more, I guess, attractive for fans and players."— Jessica Camerato (@JessicaCamerato) August 21, 2022
“Nelly Cruz is such a mentor and such a presence in the clubhouse, especially with our younger Latin players,” GM Mike Rizzo told 106.7 the FAN in D.C.’s Sports Junkies on the day after the deadline. “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.”
He might not be the player or hitter he once was, but Cruz still has the ability to do what he did on Sunday, and his manager appreciates what he brings to the club and clubhouse.
“He’s just — like I said, he’s just a professional baseball player,” Martinez told reporters after the loss.
“He loves to play the game. He understands the game, and he keeps himself in great shape.
‘The guy goes in the gym every single day, doesn’t miss a beat. So I can’t say enough about Nelson, I mean, he’s been unbelievable.”
And on occasion he can still inspire awe in everyone watching him hit.
“When he gets himself ready to hit, he can hit the ball hard, we’ve seen that, and the fact that he got the ball up in the air, was awesome.
“That’s what he really needs to do, get ready early, and when he does that and he hits the ball in the air, he hits it hard.”
“It was a bomb. I thought it was going to go on top of the roof, I really did. But he smoked it. What was it 113 MPH? Yeah, I’ve seen him do that a lot though, but it was a bomb.” - Davey Martinez on Nelson Cruz's 440-foot home run in Petco Park: https://t.co/i0wdSDun67— federalbaseball (@federalbaseball) August 22, 2022