Nelson Cruz altering running style to avoid hamstring injuries

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Nelson Cruz missed 54 games and spent three different stints on the disabled list last season because of hamstring injuries and Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com reports that the Rangers outfielder is working with a trainer “focused on running more upright to possibly relieve some of the stress on his legs.”

Cruz’s trainer is actually Rangers reliever Darren O’Day’s brother, who according to Durrett “combines rehab, biomechanics, and coaching techniques to help athletes become both more efficient and less injury prone.”

Cruz also missed time in 2009 with an ankle injury and was in the lineup for just 236 of a possible 324 games over the past two seasons. During that same time period his .900 OPS ranked fifth among all big-league outfielders behind only Matt Holliday, Manny Ramirez, Jose Bautista, and Ryan Braun.

Joey Votto: “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently.”

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We’ve poked fun often at the spring training trope of players showing up to camp in the “best shape of [their] life.” Reds first baseman Joey Votto has turned that entirely on its head. Talking about his offseason, the 2010 NL MVP said, “I tried to get fatter. I succeeded at that apparently. We did all the testing and I am fatter,” Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. Votto, of course, wasn’t trying to say he’s not in shape; he was just using some of his trademark self-deprecating humor.

Votto did get serious when discussing the state of the rebuilding Reds. As Buchanan also reported, Votto said, “I think we’re starting to get to the point where people are starting to get tired of this stretch of ball. I think something needs to start changing and start going in a different direction. I’m going to do my part to help make that change.”

Votto, 34, is under contract with the Reds through at least 2023, so he still has plenty of incentive to help see the rebuild through. He has been nothing short of stellar over the last three seasons. This past season, he hit .320/.454/.578 with 36 home runs, 100 RBI, and 106 runs scored in 707 appearances across all 162 games. Votto led the majors in walks (134) and on-base percentage and led the National League in OPS (1.032).

Despite Votto’s presence, both FanGraphs and PECOTA are projecting the Reds to put up a 74-88 record. The club had a pretty quiet offseason, expecting to enter 2018 with largely the same roster as last year.