Nelson Cruz hits two homers, drives in seven

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Nelson Cruz turned 40 earlier this month. Early middle age is wearing well on the guy.

The Minnesota Twins’ designated hitter put on an offensive display against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago yesterday afternoon, hitting two homers and two doubles and driving in seven runs to help the Twins to a 14-2 victory over the White Sox.

In so doing, Cruz became the fourth-oldest player in Major League history with seven RBI in a game. He’s in pretty good company, too. The three guys older than him to do it: Stan Musial, Jason Giambi and Reggie Jackson. Cruz also became the second-oldest player in American League history to notch four extra-base hits in a game. The oldest: Rickey Henderson.

Cruz notched his doubles in the first and second innings, hit a solo homer in the fourth and hit a three-run shot in the eighth, finishing the game 4-for-5, scoring four runs and accounting for two of the seven he drove in. Not that any of this was news to the White Sox. Last year Cruz hit .433/.521/.917 against them. He was asked about that after the game:

“It’s nothing against any one, you know. I just try to do my job. If you ask the Royals, they’d probably say that too. For me, it’s just business.”

Either way, playing in the AL Central wears well on the guy.

Cruz signed a one-year, $14.3 million deal with the Twins before the 2019 season and proceeded to hit .311/.392/.639 with 41 homers and 108 runs batted in. It was his best year ever measured by OPS+. Still, because that contract had a $12 million team option on it for 2020 — and because, let’s face it, you don’t always do well gambling on an aging slugger — he took a pay cut for this season even before the campaign was shortened to 60 games.

Then again, people were saying Nelson Cruz was a risk back when he signed with the Mariners before the 2015 season. All he’s done since then, excluding the 2020 campaign, is hit .288/.367/.561 (OPS+ 151) while averaging 41 homers and 104 RBI. On this young season he’s 7-for-13 with three homers already. He has 404 dingers lifetime despite the fact that he never even played in 100 games in a year until his age-28 season.

Fine wine, man. Fine wine.

Blue Jays hire Don Mattingly as bench coach

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
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TORONTO — Don Mattingly is joining the Toronto Blue Jays as bench coach to manager John Schneider, the team announced.

The former New York Yankees slugger, a six-time All-Star, joins the Blue Jays after seven seasons as manager of the Florida Marlins, where he won NL Manager of the Year honors in 2020.

Mattingly previously spent five seasons as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, winning three division titles in that span. He also worked as hitting coach and bench coach for the Yankees, and as hitting coach of the Dodgers before his managerial stint in Los Angeles.

In Toronto, Mattingly replaces Casey Candaele, who was promoted from Triple-A Buffalo to serve as Schneider’s bench coach after the Jays fired manager Charlie Montoyo in July, replacing him with Schneider. The Blue Jays said Candaele will resume his job as manager of the Triple-A Bisons in 2023.

Mattingly spent his entire 14-year playing career with the Yankees, winning nine Gold Glove awards at first base, three Silver Slugger awards, the 1984 AL batting title and the 1985 AL MVP award.