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Nelson Cruz brings slugging to the middle of the Seattle Mariners batting order

Nelson Cruz, former Baltimore Orioles slugger, feels his power will translate to Seattle’s Safeco Field just fine. (Associated Press)
Nelson Cruz, former Baltimore Orioles slugger, feels his power will translate to Seattle’s Safeco Field just fine. (Associated Press)
By Bob Dutton Tacoma News Tribune

PEORIA, Ariz. — Nelson Cruz donned a Batman T-shirt Wednesday after completing his first official workout as a Mariner. This isn’t Fellini. The message is easily grasped.

The Mariners are doling out $57 million to Cruz over the next four years because he can hit: He led the majors last season with 40 homers while playing at Baltimore and finished with a .525 slugging percentage.

Point to note: Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager led the Mariners last season with a .454 slugging percentage. Current plans call for them to bracket Cruz in this year’s lineup.

And while, yes, Oriole Park at Camden Yards is, as often noted, far more hitter-friendly than Safeco Field…let’s just say Cruz isn’t concerned.

“I don’t pay attention to that stuff,” he said. “All I can do is what I can do. When the day comes, whatever happens will happen. I try to hit line drives. If it goes out, it goes out. That’s my approach.”

This is a player, after all, who uses @NCBoomstick23 as his twitter handle. The Mariners don’t appear to be concerned either.

“I’ve heard the critics say, `Well, he won’t hit home runs in Safeco,’” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He didn’t have any problem hitting them last year…he made it look real small last year.”

Cano pushed the Mariners to sign Cruz, who turns 35 on July 1. The two grew close prior to the 2013 season as teammates on the Dominican Republic club that won the World Baseball Classic.

“I know what kind of guy he is,” Cano said. “I’ve known him for a long time. He’s going to like it here. He’s a great guy. He likes to compete. He’s a great guy. That’s what you want on your team.”

So…Batman, hun?

“I like the shirt,” Cruz said. “I have a few other ones. Superman and stuff like that. I think this one is my favorite. You’re going to see me with this one for quite a while.”

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