HOUSTON -- The Orioles lost their best player after just 2 1/2 innings on Sunday, with the Majors' leading home run hitter Nelson Cruz exiting after taking a pitch off his left hand. Cruz is considered day-to-day with a contusion after in-game X-Rays at a local hospital came back negative.
Cruz had his swollen hand wrapped following the Orioles' 9-4 win, and he said he wasn't sure if he'd be ready to go following Monday's off-day.
"I have to [wait] until tomorrow to see how I feel," Cruz said of playing Tuesday's opener against the Rangers. "I tried to stay in the game, but I can't hold the bat. So hopefully tomorrow it is better."
Cruz was in obvious pain after Astros starter Scott Feldman's second pitch struck the slugger's hand. It was the second hit batsmen by Feldman, who surrendered a season-high nine runs, and Cruz -- who was his teammate in Texas -- said he didn't think it was intentional.
"Maybe he tried to go in, you know," he said. "I know the catcher [Carlos Corporan] went and talked to him before I got hit, so I was maybe thinking they tried to pitch around me [or] something. So I couldn't tell. I don't think [it was intentional]."
"I didn't want to hit him," Feldman said. "I checked after the game to make sure he was all right, and they said it was just a bruise, so that was a little relieving. It happens -- it's part of the game trying to pitch inside."
O's head athletic trainer Richie Bancells came out immediately after the plunking, along with manager Buck Showalter. After several minutes, Cruz trotted to first base, but he was replaced in right field for the bottom of the third inning.
"There's a long bone down through there. He tried to grip the bat up the runway and had some point tender pain right on the spot," Showalter said of Cruz. "I was pretty concerned there. A lot of time, you get those type of symptoms, you don't like the results. But I'm hoping even though he didn't dodge a bullet, that we did."
A loss of Cruz for any amount of time would be a serious blow to the Orioles. Cruz has 20 homers and he set a new team record with 52 RBIs through May.
He was replaced in right field by David Lough, who moved over from left field, with Delmon Young entering the game in left.
"He's going to be sore," Showalter said. "If I know Nelson, he's going to want to play on Tuesday. It's got nothing to do with who we're playing. He just likes to be there. But he seemed to be in pretty good spirits inside afterward. You never know when you're going to get those reports back. Those are normal X-rays. If he continues to have some issues with it, then I guess there's three different levels of X-rays that you go off the symptoms, but so far, so good."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.