Cruz given breather to rest bruised forearm

Cruz given breather to rest bruised forearm

HOUSTON -- Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz wasn't in the lineup for the first time this season on Sunday as manager Scott Servais gave him the day off to rest a bruised right forearm.

"He got nicked by a pitch the other night and I thought it best to give him an off-day today," Servais said prior to Sunday's series finale with the Astros. "He hung in there the best he could and did the best he could last night, but he was a little sore. So we'll give him a day today and get him ready for the homestand."

Cruz went 1-for-5 with two strikeouts in Saturday's 3-2, 10-inning win and is hitting .268 with five homers and 16 RBIs in the first 30 games. The 35-year-old finished second in the Majors with 44 homers last year, and Servais acknowledged it wasn't an easy decision to rest the big man.

"Very, very, very hard," Servais said. "He's a guy you want to see in there every day. But he's not going to play all 162. We'll give him a blow and get other guys in there."

Cruz said the arm is sore, but he wasn't looking for any time off.

"Even when I'm hurt, I feel like I can do something to help the team, you know?" he said. "But there's nothing you can do when you're out of the lineup."

Which is exactly why Servais didn't bother asking Cruz if he wanted to play.

"You just have to not put his name in the lineup," said the first-year skipper. "Otherwise, if you go ask him, he'll say he's fine to go. But it's best to give him a breather."

Aside from sitting on Sunday, Cruz is enjoying the Mariners' surge as they've taken the early lead in the American League West and continue finding ways to win in dramatic fashion, including Saturday's extra-inning win in which Robinson Cano delivered the game-winning homer after the Astros tied the score in the bottom of the ninth.

"It's crazy," Cruz said. "The last five, six games have been like that. It feels like every game is back and forth, back and forth. We're just prepared for something good. I can't imagine what it's going to be like at the end of the year if we play so many good games. It seems like we're making the right move every time, we make the right play, we get the hit we need."

Worth noting

• Right-hander Taijuan Walker played catch in the outfield prior to Sunday's 5-1 loss to the Astros and said his sore neck felt fine after he was pulled from Friday's game after two innings. The 23-year-old said he'll throw a bullpen session on Monday at Safeco Field and be ready for Wednesday's start against the Rays.

Kyle Seager went 1-for-4 in Sunday's series finale to extend his hitting streak to nine games, during which he's batted 16-for-37 (.432) with four doubles, two triples and three homers to raise his batting average from .139 to .233.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.