Orioles' Nelson Cruz says he didn't expect 40 home runs this year

September 24, 2014|By Eduardo A. Encina | The Baltimore Sun

NEW YORK -- Nelson Cruz said Wednesday that he didn’t expect to hit 40 home runs before the season began, adding that staying healthy has been the key to having a career year at age 34.

“No shot,” he said when asked if he thought at the beginning of the year he’d hit 40. “I was able to do that number. I didn’t expect 40, the number. I think the aim for any player is to stay healthy, play as many games as he can, stay on the field. That was my main goal, to try and stay healthy, to try to put up numbers. I was able to put up the numbers. My main concern was to stay healthy.”

The Orioles have been able to keep Cruz healthy by using him more at designated hitter in the second half to keep his legs fresh. In the past, Cruz has gone on the disabled list with quad and hamstring injuries.

With his 40th homer in the Orioles’ 5-4 win Tuesday, Cruz became the sixth Orioles player to hit 40 homers in a season. He joined Chris Davis (53 in 2013), Brady Anderson (50 in 1996), Frank Robinson (49 in 1966), Jim Gentile (46 in 1961) and Rafael Palmeiro (43 in 1998).

“Any time you make history with that type of performance, especially with this team, it has lots of history, and it’s been here for a while, that makes it special,” Cruz said.

After hitting just .213 in July and August, Cruz is hitting .383 with five homers and 19 RBIs in 23 games this month after a four-hit game Wednesday.

“It’s the same routine with everything I do since day one,” Cruz said. “I guess you put a little more effort into tough situations and try to stay focused for the end of the season and the start of the playoff drive.”

eencina@baltsun.com

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