SARASOTA, Fla. – Nelson Cruz was introduced to the media this morning during a news conference at the Ed Smith Stadium Complex that was well attended by his new teammates.
Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy, Nick Markakis, Manny Machado, Darren O’Day and Tommy Hunter were among the players who stood at the back of the room behind the TV cameras.
Here's what was said at the news conference.
Duquette’s opening statement:
I’m glad we could make this the habit, this is the third time we’ve done this this week. I want to welcome our players here, we appreciate your attendance at the conference. The Orioles today are announcing a one-year deal with Nelson Cruz. Nelson is a power hitter, he does very well against both left and right-handed pitching. He’s also been a clutch performer in the playoffs, where he’s hit over 14 home runs in 34 games and distinguished himself in 2011 as the MVP of the ALCS. He has an excellent arm on defense and is a proven solid dependable performer in the American League. He presents a good presence in the middle of the lineup, which will extend our lineup and make our team more formidable. I want to thank [agent] Adam Katz for his role in helping to bring this agreement together and I want to congratulate Nelson on behalf of the Orioles and wish him a lot of luck.
Cruz on why the Orioles were a good fit:
First of all, I want to thank Dan and Buck and my teammates. Thank you for the support. I think it's the right fit. I like to compete, I like to be in a race. This is a team that fits right for me. It's a great environment.
Cruz on whether Orioles had been on his radar:
Yeah, it was there since the beginning. That was my goal, one of the teams that I was looking for.
Cruz on whether the free-agent process was frustrating:
I don't think I have to prove anything. It was a frustrating process, but I'm happy for the decision that I made. I'm really excited for the opportunity. I like challenges and I think it's going to be a great challenge for me. Hopefully, I do my best and I look for the World Series.
Showalter on managing Cruz on 2006 with the Rangers:
He was a puppy then. He's a grizzled veteran now.
Cruz on having Showalter as manager:
He was kind of my first manager, the one who gave me a chance to play almost every day, and I'm happy to be with him again.
More Showalter on managing Cruz in Texas:
He made us look smart. That was an easy evaluation. I'm real proud of the way he's evolved not only as a player, but as a person and teammate. The one common denominator when you talk to people about Nelson is about his relationship with his teammates and his city. This is one of the most popular players in Texas. He's a real sincere guy. It's one of those things where he'll show you, not talk about it. That part of the equation we felt real good about. And any time you've got first-hand knowledge of a guy, the way he conducts himself, you feel real good about that part. The only thing you want to have challenge guys is the game itself, and he has a way of making his teammates better by the way he treats them.
Cruz on what it meant to have his teammates attend press conference:
That means they care about their teammates. From experience I know the closer you are to your teammates, the better you're going to perform on the field. We are now a family and we're going to stick together the whole time.
Cruz on whether he’s confident Biogenesis scandal is behind him:
No doubt. Whatever happened in the past, I look to move forward and have a great year with the Baltimore Orioles.
Cruz on anticipating apprehension from new teammates:
It was going to be there. [My teammates being at the press conference] is a good example for welcoming [me] to the team and give me support.”
Duquette on whether the team is done acquiring free agents:
We’ve been steadily putting our team together. We signed a couple of pitchers which we said we were going to do and we said we were looking for a bat in the middle of our lineup and Nelson can fill that role. We’re always looking, but I don’t anticipate any players of this caliber soon, but we’re always looking around. We’re glad to have Nelson. Nelson is a proven slugger. He’s one of the few guys who has hit over 20 home runs over the last five years and you heard from his former team [about] what a great teammate he is. He’s a real solid addition to our team both personally and by what he brings on the field.
Cruz on joining this lineup:
No doubt. Every time you play the Orioles the presence of the hitter, that always sticks out in your mind. Hopefully I come in and do my job. Like I said, I’m excited about this opportunity. I’m going to be in a great ballpark in a great division. I like the challenge and I like to compete, so this is the best atmosphere I’ve been in.
Showalter on whether Cruz fits in as a DH or position player:
We’re going to see how we do things. We’re going to keep everybody … obviously, Nelson is going to get his at-bats and we try to keep everybody in the flow. We’re not going to have somebody get pigeonholed in one spot. It’s only beneficial for everybody, whether it be Adam, whether it be Nick. That’s always a lot of fun going to them about DHing. That’s the thing with Nelson. I have a lot of respect for what he’s accomplished on both sides of the baseball and we’d be foolish not to take advantage of that, so we’re going to keep everybody in the flow and see how the club shakes out. There’s a lot of things that can happen between now and the end of spring as you’ve already seen and so, another one of the things we hope to show you instead of tell you about today. Sometimes you don’t know exactly how it’s going to work out. His acquisition helps me keep everybody healthy as we go forward.”
Cruz on possibility of getting most of his at-bats as DH:
I’m just happy to be in the lineup. Whatever I think is gonna help the team do better, I’m prepared to do it.