Nelson Cruz is back in the Rangers’ starting lineup tonight against the Mariners as the designated hitter. He struck out in a pinch-hit appearance on Wednesday, but this will be his first start since straining his left hamstring on August 28.
According to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Rangers hope Cruz will be able to play right field again as soon as Tuesday. If he feels well enough to give it a go, Josh Hamilton will become the center fielder and the hot-hitting David Murphy will play left field. Craig Gentry and Endy Chavez, who have split center field duties for most of the season, will head to the bench.
Cruz, 31, is batting .270/.321/.530 with 28 home runs, 84 RBI, nine stolen bases and an .851 OPS over 470 plate appearances this season.
Cubs infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with back soreness. The move is retroactive to April 14. While it doesn’t appear to be the precursor to any serious injury, Zobrist has already missed six straight days of activity after feeling his back tighten up last weekend. Should he see the minimum time on the DL, as expected, he’ll be eligible to return by the start of the Cubs’ series against the Indians on Tuesday.
Prior to his injury, the 36-year-old outfielder raked an impressive .326/.408/.465 with three extra-base hits in 49 plate appearances. He last appeared for the Cubs during their homestand last weekend and helped propel the team to a 14-10 win over the Braves with three hits, two walks and two RBI. Provided that he can remain healthy going forward, it’s a promising start for the veteran outfielder, who has yet to return to the All-Star-worthy numbers he posted with the club in 2016.
With Zobrist sidelined for the time being, Ian Happ and Albert Almora Jr. have shared the leadoff spot and center field duties over the last week. Happ went 0-for-8 with six strikeouts in two games before passing the baton to Almora, who collected five hits and two RBI in 11 at-bats.