Nelson Cruz, one of the late free-agent signings of the Baltimore Orioles, kicked his 2014 campaign off with a bang against the Boston Red Sox. The 33-year-old outfielder signed a one-year contract worth $8 million with the Orioles back in February, and he has a lot to prove this season.
Cruz must win the respect of his teammates and the Baltimore faithful as well as proving that he can still be a productive player after having been suspended 50 games last season for his connection to the Biogenesis PED scandal.
Cruz wasted no time making an impression in front of a huge crowd at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Opening Day. Defensively, Cruz surprised people with his range early in the game. In the second inning he made a nice leaping catch to rob Xander Bogaerts of an extra-base hit and potential RBIs.
At the plate was where Cruz really impressed though. After hitting 27 home runs last season, people wondered if he’d still have that kind of power without the aid of performance enhancing drugs, but he answered that question in the seventh inning. Jon Lester was pitching a gem for the Red Sox until Cruz got a hold of a pitch and sent it flying into the left field bleachers to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead that they wouldn’t relinquish.
While it may only be one game, Cruz got off to a good start which is vital for the success of the Orioles as a team in 2014 and for the future of Cruz’s career.