Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz has been on the 15-day disabled list since late May with a strained left hamstring. It’s actually his second DL stint of the season, and one that may be close to ending.
He began a rehab assignment this weekend and went 0-for-3 with a walk as the designated hitter for Triple-A Oklahoma City on Saturday night. On Sunday evening he will play the outfield, a major step toward an anticipated Tuesday return. Rangers manager Ron Washington has heard nothing but good things concerning his outfielder’s progress.
“Cruz is doing well,” Washington told MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan. “We haven’t heard
any complaints about anything. He’s running everything out and running
good in the outfield. He’s good. If he makes it through today, we’ll
have him back starting Tuesday.”
Cruz has killed the ball this season on the major league level, but has obviously struggled to stay healthy. He will return to a .327/.405/.729 batting line, 10 home runs, 43 RBI and seven stolen bases. The Rangers have rattled off seven straight wins and have won nine of their last 10. Having Cruz back in the lineup should only boost the club’s potential for wins.
Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal has not had a good postseason. Entering Monday night’s NLCS Game 3, he was batting .111/.238/.278 in 21 trips to the plate across the NLDS and the first two games of the NLCS.
Defense has also been an issue for Grandal. In Game 1 of the NLCS, Grandal was on the hook for two passed balls. In the sixth inning of Game 3 Monday night, he couldn’t corral a curve in the dirt, which allowed Travis Shaw to score the Brewers’ second run of the night. Starter Walker Buehler was charged with a wild pitch. In the eighth, with Ryan Braun on first base and Shaw at the plate, Grandal again couldn’t corral a pitch in the dirt, allowing Braun to move to second base. Fortunately for the Dodgers, Alex Wood was able to escape the inning with no damage.
Manager Dave Roberts said that Austin Barnes, not Grandal, will start behind the plate for Game 4 on Tuesday night, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. That comes as no surprise at all. When Grandal struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, Dodger fans regaled him with boos.
Barnes will be an upgrade defensively, but he’s lacking with the bat. He had an 0-for-3 performance in Game 2, though with an RBI, bringing his career slash line in the playoffs to .200/.281/.300 across 57 plate appearances. During the regular season, his career 100 adjusted OPS is a fair bit behind Grandal’s 115. Roberts is trading offense for defense in Game 4. Rich Hill will get the start opposite the Brewers’ Gio González.