BOSTON - Nelson Cruz understands that he’s going to be under close scrutiny this season after his 50-game suspension last season, and that some players in baseball weren’t going to be supportive as he led designated hitters in All-Star voting.
Cruz wasn’t aware of John Lackey’s comments last night and said he has no prior history with the Red Sox pitcher.
“What I care is about my teammates, what they think about me,” Cruz said. “When you go to ballparks and beat other teams they are not going to be happy regardless of what you do. What I care about is what my teammates think about me and what my fans think about me.
“Like I’ve said before, they’re not going to be happy when I come in and do good. They want to see me strike out every time.
“Everybody is free to talk. What I care about is what I’m doing here. You can’t go and confront everyday who talks, you know? My point is to go and play hard and try to get hits for the team.”
Manager Buck Showalter wasn’t aware of Lackey’s comments until this morning. He referenced the heckling that Cruz endures on the road.
“He’s already dealt with it. He knows. You know,” Showalter said.
“You’re with him on the road. You guys don’t get to hear a lot of the stuff. You consider sources of people and some of their emotions after the game, whether it be a player’s comment or a manager’s comment or some fan’s comment. You understand that nobody makes those comments after they pitched a complete-game shutout or Nelson is 0-for-5. It’s human nature. We need to all make sure we check our own backyard before we start looking at someone else’s.”
Showalter was asked about first baseman Chris Davis’ exclusion from today’s lineup.
“He’s fine physically,” Showalter said. “Just felt like with the doubleheader yesterday and he’s (1-for-10) off (Jake) Peavy. Peavy is kind of a neutral split if you look at it. It’s just a good day to give him a day. He’s scuffling a little bit obviously.”
Davis is expected to return to the lineup Monday night in D.C.
“As far as I know,” Showalter said. “What’s the end game? You’re trying to get back to where he was and has been this year at times. But it’s a relentless challenging place. It’s (Stephen) Strasburg tomorrow. All their starting pitchers are good. But he hit those guys last year. He hit good pitching last year. And he has this year at times. It’s just been a tougher road for him lately.”
Showalter indicated that Bud Norris is likely to come off the disabled list Tuesday and start against the Nationals.
“He feels good today,” Showalter said. “Everything went well yesterday. He threw 30-35 pitches, so he’s an option for both days. He’s not that far removed from pitching. We felt that was sufficient. It gives him two starts before the break. In a perfect world, you’d like to see him get those under his belt. We’ll see. It would also give (Wei-Yin) Chen and extra day of rest.
“We’re leaning toward Tuesday, but don’t hold me to it. Bud, I know he’s leaning toward Tuesday last night when we talked about it.”
What about a six-man rotation heading into the break?
“Every year we send somebody out to create some depth in the bullpen,” Showalter said. “We only had one guys who didn’t throw yesterday, but we shortened them up a lot. We have almost everybody available today. We could send somebody out like we did just about every other year to make sure we’ve got some depth in our bullpen and really not lose anything and still be able to get back before the 10 days are up post All-Star break.
“We could. Not saying we’re going to. We’ll see how the next few days go.”
Norris said he threw about 35 pitches in his two simulated innings. He didn’t feel any discomfort in his groin and is ready to start.
“I really wanted to nip it in the bud and I think we did a good job with that,” he said. “I really didn’t have any repercussions from yesterday. I felt pretty good. I just want to get out there and help my team the best I can. It’s coming sooner rather than later.
“I know we’ve got the break, but I feel good. I really didn’t feel it yesterday at all. I was a little wild mechanically, but the arm felt fine, too. Controlling that adrenaline and getting back out there in game situations is going to be the best thing for me and I look forward to it.”
Coaches Wayne Kirby and Einar Diaz and vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson batted against Norris yesterday.
“Wayne Kirby’s an intimidating factor, so I was a little nervous,” Norris quipped. “I’m not going to lie. A little pregame jitters with Wayne Kirby stepping in the box.
“He got me. He got a double in the corner on a little 3-2 fastball mistake. He put a good swing on it and you’ve got to tip your cap sometimes. Einar rolled over a few, so I got some ground ball double plays, which were nice, and then Brady popped out to center. The only real hitter in the cage was Kirby.”
Norris wore his game face, especially when a Kirby comebacker deflected off his leg.
“When you get a liner off your leg, you start to wake up a little bit,” Norris said. “The second inning was a little bit better than the first.
“He kind of hit me in the same spot where I already have a bruise from, so it startled me, to say the least, but I’ll be all right. It was good to get two innings in and get all my pitches in.”