NEW YORK -- Major League Baseball Players Association director of player services Tony Clark today announced that former Major Leaguer Jose Cruz, Jr. has joined the player services department as special assistant.

Cruz Jr., 38, made his Major League debut in 1997 and appeared in 1,388 games in 12 seasons, playing with Seattle, Toronto, San Francisco, Tampa, Arizona, Boston, the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego before retiring in 2008. Drafted by the Mariners with the third pick in the first round of the 1995 amateur draft, Cruz was a Gold Glove outfielder in 2003, and he finished his career with 1,167 hits, 204 home runs, 624 RBIs and a .247 batting average.

The son of former Major Leaguer Jose Cruz, and born in Arroyo, Puerto Rico, Cruz Jr. will assist the union's player services department by providing additional educational and communications support to Spanish-speaking players, in addition to the general membership. "Junior," who spent the 2012 season working with ESPN as a baseball analyst, will graduate in May from Rice University with a degree in sports management.

"I'm excited to join the player services staff of the MLBPA," stated Cruz. "I have been around the game my entire life, and I look forward to putting that experience to good use by helping the union in its player-relations efforts."

"Jose's playing career, background in the game and his desire to support our fraternity of players makes him the ideal candidate for a role in the union's player services department," said Clark. "We're fortunate to have him on board."

"We're pleased to add Jose to our staff," added MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner. "His lifelong experience in the game will enhance the union's ongoing efforts to keep our membership informed and engaged; Jose is sure to be an invaluable asset to Tony Clark and the players services department."