Take a bow, Nelson Cruz.
Already having homered to give the Rangers their third run in Saturday’s 3-2 victory over the Tigers, Cruz unleashed some more fury Monday, tying the game with a solo bomb in the seventh and then hitting a rare walkoff grand slam in the 11th as the Rangers won 7-3.
Cruz, who was just 1-for-15 in the ALDS against the Rays, has nine homers, seven doubles and 16 RBI in 22 games over the last two postseasons. He was instrumental in the Rangers’ run to the World Series last year, hitting six homers and knocking in 11 runs.
And now Cruz, who went from hitting .318 in 2010 to .263 this year, is hot again. He certainly has to be taken seriously as one of the game’s top sluggers when he’s on. Over the last three seasons, he ranks 11th in baseball in slugging percentage at .534, leaving him just a tad behind guys like Ryan Braun (.548), Prince Fielder (.547) and teammate Josh Hamilton (.546). His production is inflated by playing in Texas and his rate stats probably wouldn’t be as strong anywhere else, but there’s no questioning his power.
One need merely ask Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer and Ryan Perry about that.
The Diamondbacks announced on Monday that the club signed catcher Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $4 million contract.
Mathis, 33, isn’t much with the stick as he owns a career .197/.254/.308 triple-slash line over parts of 12 seasons in the majors. The veteran, though, is well-regarded for his ability to play defense, call games, handle a pitching staff, and get along with his teammates in the clubhouse. As Craig mentioned last year, Mathis is often talked about as a future manager.
As the D-Backs non-tendered Welington Castillo on Friday, Chris Herrmann and Mathis are the team’s two catchers as presently constructed.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins wants to continue playing in 2017.
Rollins, 38, signed a minor league deal with the White Sox for the 2016 season but hit a disappointing .221/.295/.329 over 166 plate appearances. The club released Rollins in the middle of June and he did not sign with a new team. He did join TBS as part of their playoff coverage.
Rollins is almost certainly looking at another minor league contract and will have to earn his way onto a major league roster by performing well in spring training.