Nelson Cruz’s is penciled in on the starting lineup card for a game at Globe Life Park in Arlington for the 382nd time in his career Tuesday night.
Except this time he’ll bat in the top of the first inning rather than the bottom half, he’ll roam left field, and he’ll be wearing black and orange.
“It’s weird,” Cruz said. “I’ve been here for so long. Now to be on the other side is different.”
It will be the first time fans in Arlington get to see the former Ranger slugger whose final year in Texas was tarnished by his involvement in the Biogenesis scandal. Cruz, who wore no. 17 in the Ranger red, white and blue, played 796 games with Texas and slugged 157 home runs.
Despite the steroid-laden end to the his tenure with the Rangers, which saw him go 0-for-4 in his final game, Cruz expects a warm reception from the fans he grew to love in eight seasons.
“Love, hopefully. You always try to expect the best. Hopefully I hear some cheers,” he said.
For years, a prolonged “Cruz” chant would echo through the Ballpark when the power-hitting right fielder stepped up to the plate. Cruz said it will be a weird feeling should those cheers turn to jeers and the long /oo/ sound take a different tone.
While he hasn’t crossed the foul line or stepped into the batter’s box in front of the fans, he has already had his reunion with his former teammates. Cruz arrived Sunday and met up with some of the Texas players, including Adrian Beltre, Monday.
“We keep in touch, Beltre and all the guys. I saw them last night also,” Cruz said.
Beltre said he already gave Nelson a hard time Monday and wouldn’t need to on the field during the three-game series with Baltimore. The fun-loving third baseman wouldn’t give details on the reunion with Cruz.
“It’s too private,” Beltre said in between chuckles.
Nelson makes his return to Arlington boasting a .314 batting average and leads the league with 20 home runs and 52 RBIs.
“[The season has been] great so far, I’ve been blessed,” he said. “My teammates and everyone [have been] nice. That makes it more comfortable for me.”