ARLINGTON, Texas – Nelson Cruz is in the Orioles' starting lineup Tuesday against the Texas Rangers batting third and playing left field.
After getting hit by a pitch in his left hand Sunday, Cruz received treatment. He was able to hold a bat Monday and has already tested the hand by swinging in the indoor cages Tuesday.
This is Cruz's first trip back to Arlington after spending the past eight seasons with the Texas Rangers.
"It's weird," Cruz said about being back in Texas. "I had been here so long that, now to be on the other side, it's kind of different. I keep in touch with [Rangers third baseman Adrian] Beltre and the other guys. I saw them last night also."
Cruz said he has nothing but positive memories of Texas, where he developed into an All-Star player. But it was obvious the Rangers weren't bringing him back when they signed Shin-Soo Choo to complete their outfield in the offseason.
Cruz said he still believed he could contribute defensively, which he said was part of the reason he signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the Orioles.
"I think he's played really well defensively for us," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I think that was a point of emphasis for him this spring."
Cruz also said he would like to remain in Baltimore when he becomes a free agent again after this season.
"I'm playing for Baltimore," Cruz said. "That's the team I play for. I'm looking forward to staying there."
-- Showalter said he is considering a six-man rotation once left-hander Johan Santana is ready to join the major league club.
The Orioles added Santana to the 40-man roster and placed him on the 15-day major league disabled list Monday just before he could have exercised an opt-out clause in the minor league deal he signed in the offseason.
"We've been down a long road with him, probably longer for him, personally," Showalter said. There's a lot of things that went on before he came to us. I've got a pretty good understanding of where he is and the timeframe we're talking about now. It's a lot more definitive. He's crossed over a lot of hurdles."
And instead of replacing an existing starter with Santana, especially while the rotation is starting to come around over the past week, Showalter said he could go to six starters.
"I don't think there will be anything difficult about it," Showalter said. "I've been hinting at going to six starters anyway. It's easy to solve. It's not a problem. Any time there's good pitchers available, I'm in, especially with his pedigree."
-- Catcher Matt Wieters had another throwing session Tuesday, and this time, he extended both distance and reps.
Wieters made 10 throws from 70 feet, another 10 from 90 feet and 10 more from 100 feet.
"Better," Wieters said. "More distance. We are trying to get to a point where we can really see where we are at. Each day I have thrown, I have gotten more strength and [been] able to do more throws before fatigue will set in.
"Anytime I feel like I can go further and feel better doing it is a good thing. Just going to keep trying to do that. The big thing at this point is to try to not have any setbacks and keep moving forward."
Wieters will take Wednesday off and throw again Thursday, likely continuing to extend his distance and number of throws. Showalter said the longest distance he will throw in his progression is 120 feet.
"We are not looking beyond this week right now," Wieters said. "We are looking at keep trying to get stronger, keep trying to get longer. When it's ready it's ready. And we will know when we get there. But right now, it's just about building strength."
-- Tommy Hunter, on the disabled list with a left groin strain, threw a side session before Tuesday's game in Texas and also did some light pitcher's fielding practice.
He will either throw another side session Thursday, or he could start a minor league rehabilitation assignment that day, Showalter said.
Hunter said he's pleased with his progress. Even though he won't be ready to come off the disabled list when he's eligible Thursday, he could rejoin the club as soon as Monday.
"Yeah, I am actually," Hunter said. "Four days ago, I think, was the last time I felt it. Five days ago. That's pretty awesome. It's pretty cool not feeling it, cause it sucks when you do."
Hunter has gone on the DL for a groin injury in the past, missing the beginning of the 2011 season for a right groin strain, so he said that has helped him know what the recovery is like.
"I kind of knew. It's the same treatment every time," Hunter said. "There were some times on the fourth or fifth day that I had to stop because you can feel it. You know it's not right. Something's not right. Doing leg swings in the pool, you can feel it the first couple of days, and then gradually it got better, it got better, it got better."
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-- Top pitching prospect Dylan Bundy threw four innings in an extended spring training game in Sarasota, Fla., on Tuesday, and then he stayed in the game to get a 13th out to meet his pitch count. He threw 56 pitches, allowing just one hit and striking out six. He induced four groundouts and three flyouts.
Bundy, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery last June, is scheduled to make one more start in extended spring training and could then report to the Orioles' short-season rookie affiliate in Aberdeen. The IronBirds' season begins on June 13 at Hudson Valley.
Here are the starting lineups for tonight's game:
Nick Markakis RF
Manny Machado 3B
Nelson Cruz LF
Adam Jones CF
Chris Davis 1B
J.J. Hardy SS
Delmon Young DH
Jonathan Schoop 2B
Caleb Joseph LHP
Shin-Soo Choo DH
Elvis Andrus SS
Mitch Moreland 1B
Adrian Beltre 3B
Alex Rios RF
Michael Choice LF
Leonys Martin CF
Robinson Chirinos C
Rougned Odor 2B
Joe Saunders LHP