SARASOTA, FLA. — While Nelson Cruz's one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles was being finalized, players spent the past few days answering questions about how Cruz would be accepted inside the Orioles clubhouse.

The 33-year-old gives the Orioles the middle-of-the-order power bat the club had been searching for this offseason, but served a 50-game suspension last season as part of the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal.

But before Cruz was introduced to the media on Tuesday morning at the Ed Smith Stadium complex, his new teammates made a statement of solidarity that spoke volumes without saying a word.

A group of eight core Orioles players — Adam Jones, Chris Davis, Matt Wieters, J.J. Hardy, Manny Machado, Nick Markakis, Darren O'Day and Tommy Hunter — along with hitting coach Jim Presley, filed into the room before Tuesday's press conference and watched from behind the row of cameras in support of their new slugger.

"That means they care about their teammates," Cruz said during the press conference. "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."

The Orioles officially introduced their third free-agent acquisition in a frenzy of moves made since arriving in Sarasota that includes the acquisitions of Cruz, frontline right-handed starting pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez and South Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon. Three three pushed the club's projected Opening Day payroll to a franchise-record $105 million.

"I'm glad we could make this a habit," Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said about the team's third press conference in the past eight days. "[Cruz] presents a good presence in the middle of the lineup, which will extend our lineup and make our team more formidable."

Cruz has averaged 26 homers over the past five seasons with the Texas Rangers, has hit 14 home runs in 34 postseason games — he was the 2011 American League Championship Series MVP — and is a .333 hitter in 21 career games at Camden Yards.

Add his bat into a lineup that led the majors with 212 homers, and the Orioles in 2014 will field one of baseball's most power-packed batting orders.

"Every time you play the Orioles, the presence of the hitters, that always sticks out in your mind," Cruz said. "Hopefully, I come in and do my job. 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 [can be] in."

The Orioles clubhouse has two players — Markakis and Davis — who have been vocal about PED offenders. After he was slapped with a 50-game suspension last August, Cruz quickly apologized, saying that a gastrointestinal infection that went undiagnosed and made him lose 40 pounds led him to use PEDs.

Cruz responded to PED-related questions Tuesday with quick answers.

"Whatever happened in the past, I look to move forward and have a great year with the Baltimore Orioles," Cruz said.

His teammates apparently didn't need to hear that. Cruz has the reputation of being a solid teammate and players such as Davis, O'Day, Hunter and Hardy have played with him in the past.

"Just kind of giving him a little bit of support," Hardy said. "We all know him from playing against him or playing with him. I played with him in Milwaukee, half of this clubhouse played with him in Texas. He's a good guy. He's a friend of all of ours. So, it was just kind of a way, I guess, to show him that we want to welcome him here with open arms."

Jones, the Orioles' center fielder, echoed that sentiment.

"It was a lot of position players that showed up," Jones said. "He's going to be formidable in our lineup and we want to show our support. The guys in there, we've been around a little bit and so we kind of understand what's going on and we wanted him to feel welcome and he's welcome in this clubhouse."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter said he wasn't surprised to see his players lined up in the back of the complex's media room when he entered for the press conference.

"It was their choice to be there ," Showalter said. "I feel really good about the welcoming nature of our clubhouse and the way these guys feel about these things. They know that all of this is going to pass and you're going to end up with 25 people getting on a plane."

In Baltimore, Cruz will also be reunited with Showalter, who managed the slugger in 2006, when Cruz received his first extended playing time in the majors.