Nelson Cruz was jobless into the month of February, after spring training had already begun. Cruz had rejected the Rangers’ $14.1 million qualifying offer back in November, and remained unsigned through the winter because of the draft pick compensation to which he was attached. Finally, the Orioles relented, signing him to a one-year, $8 million deal on February 22.
Just over three months later, Cruz is baseball’s home run and RBI leader with 20 and 52, respectively. Cruz ended the month of May with a home run and three runs batted in against the Astros, and is slashing a cool .315/.383/.675. If not for Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, Cruz would be a frontrunner for AL Player of the Month honors, as he has belted 13 home runs and knocked in 27 runs in May. Encarnacion is at 16 and 33 on the month, respectively.
As our own Drew Silva pointed out on Twitter, Cruz is on pace for 60 HR and 156 RBI. Should he keep it up, he would set the Orioles’ club record for RBI in a single season, surpassing Ken Williams’ 155 in 1922 with the St. Louis Browns. Miguel Tejada holds the modern Orioles record with 150 in 2002. Chris Davis drove in 138 last season.
NEW YORK — New York Mets left fielder Jeff McNeil was carted off the field Thursday after crashing into the left field wall in the first inning to rob the Washington Nationals’ Asdrubal Cabrera of a two-run extra-base hit.
McNeil, a natural infielder who has been manning both outfielder corners for the Mets since last year, raced at full speed to the warning track and made an impressive lunging catch for the final out of the inning. He crashed into the wall with both arms extended and raised his glove hand as he fell to indicate he had the ball.
But McNeil was in obvious pain as he covered his eyes with both hands and yelled before flinging his glove off. He briefly tried getting up but only made it a few steps with a trainer and manager Luis Rojas before sitting back down.
McNeil was able to walk to a cart on the warning track before being driven off the field.
The Mets said in the fourth inning McNeil was still being evaluated and an update would be provided after the game.
McNeil, who has started at third base and left field this season, is batting .293 with seven RBIs in 16 games. He made the All-Star team last season and is a career .319 hitter in 212 games.
Billy Hamilton pinch-hit for McNeil in the bottom half of the inning.