Cruz must deal with fracture in finger
Young understands what All-Star outfielder is going through
ARLINGTON -- Nelson Cruz has to endure what Michael Young went through in the second half of last season.Cruz is going to be dealing with a small fracture in the ring finger on his right hand, and Young has told him it's not going to be easy. The fracture is at the base of the finger in a similar spot where Young was injured last season. "It's definitely a battle," Young said. "The lower it is, the worse it is. You've got the knuckle involved, you may have ligament damage. It can be tough. But it can be done. Nelson is a tough player, he plays baseball all year. If anybody can pull through it, it's Nellie." Cruz sustained the injury diving into first base in the ninth inning of the Ranger's 4-1 loss against the Twins on Saturday night. He hit a roller down the first-base line, made a nifty move to avoid Minnesota closer Joe Nathan's tag and then dove safely into first base. He also fractured the finger doing so. "I didn't plan on diving into the bag," Cruz said. "I just reacted."
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was ejected for arguing the play, but it turns out the Rangers are the ones who have to deal with the long-term consequences. Cruz had just been named to the American League All-Star team and was 6-for-19 with three home runs in his past five games."It's frustrating," Cruz said. "The team needs me and I want to play. But you can't control these things. You just have to handle it the best way." Cruz is not going on the disabled list. He is listed as day-to-day, and he said he was "50 percent" better on Monday than he was on Sunday. But he's not expected to be available for Monday's opener against the Red Sox. "Maybe tomorrow," Cruz said. "Right now, I cannot grab a bat well because it's so swollen." The biggest problem is dealing with the sting when Cruz gets jammed with a pitch or hits the ball off the end of the bat. That can aggravate the problem. It's also painful. "I'll just have to hit the ball well," Cruz said. Young had to deal with fractures in two fingers last year. He suffered a fracture in the tip of the ring finger on his left hand when he dropped a weight on it at the beginning of June, and he fractured the other ring finger diving back to first base in a game against the Mariners on July 28. The second fracture is similar to the one Cruz is dealing with right now. Young still played in 155 games, but he hit .284 and finished with 183 hits. It was the first time in six seasons that he was unable to hit .300 or finish with at least 200 hits. He hit .256 from July 29 to the end of the season. "I think he'll be fine," Young said. "The biggest thing I told him is, don't change your mechanics. That's tough to do, because the body tries to compensate for the weak link. You've got to make sure you stay disciplined with your mechanics. But he's a tough player. His mental toughness will kick in." But the pain won't go away anytime soon. Asked when his pain went away, Young said, "New Year's Eve."
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.