Cruz hopes to play through nagging wrist pain

Cruz hopes to play through nagging wrist pain

HOUSTON -- Nelson Cruz likely will be dealing with a sore left wrist for the remainder of the season, but the Mariners' designated hitter was back in the lineup for Monday's series opener against the Astros and hopes to play through the issue.

"He got it checked out this morning and it's pretty much what we thought yesterday," manager Scott Servais said prior to Monday's game. "It's something he's going to have to try to manage and see if he can play through it.

"Hopefully it doesn't get any worse. That's always what you're afraid of. You'll probably see less swings -- Nellie likes to hit a lot in the cage [and in batting practice] on the field. You'll probably see him do less of that to kind of save his bullets."

Cruz hit four home runs in the three-game weekend series in Minnesota, including one on the first pitch after trainers came out to look at his wrist following a swing and miss in the sixth inning of Sunday's finale. But he stepped back into the box and hit a home run on the next offering from Hector Santiago, though Servais pinch-hit for him in the eighth inning with the Mariners still leading by just a run in the 4-3 victory.

"It's better than it was yesterday, no doubt," Cruz said.

Statcast: Cruz's 493-ft HR

The big slugger missed two games in Texas at the end of August when he lost feeling in several of the fingers on his left hand due to a pinched nerve, but said this was unrelated. He said this injury came when he was swinging with a weighted bat prior to his third plate appearance against Toronto on Wednesday, so it nagged him throughout the Twins series -- during which he went 6-for-12 with two doubles, four home runs and eight RBIs.

"It's the first time I've had something like this," he said. "It's totally different from what I had a month ago. Last time I swung and didn't have any strength. I was competing with one hand. Now at least I have my strength, it just hurts."

And if the 36-year-old can tolerate the pain, the Mariners obviously would love to have him keep swinging if he performs like he did in Minnesota.

"Fingers crossed he can get through the rest of the year with it and we'll see where it goes," Servais said.

Worth noting

• With his two homers on Sunday, Cruz now is at 41 for the year, making him the first player since the Phillies' Ryan Howard in 2006-09 to have 40-plus homers in three straight seasons. The last AL player to do so was Boston's David Ortiz from 2004-06. Cruz also has 125 home runs since the start of 2014, which is the most in the Majors. Next closest is Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion with 115.

• Triple-A Tacoma manager Pat Listach, who lives in Houston, has joined the Mariners and will be in uniform on the bench for the three-game series with the Astros. Tacoma hitting coach Scott Brosius filled that role the last two series and pitching coach Lance Painter will do so for the last homestand against the A's.

• The Mariners will announce six Minor League awards in a pregame ceremony before their second-to-last game of the year on Saturday, Oct. 1 against the A's, with the newly named honors a hat tip to past standouts.

The awards will be the Ken Griffey Jr. Minor League Hitter of the Year Award, the Jamie Moyer Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award, the Edgar Martinez PTPA (productive team plate appearance) Award, the Alvin Davis "Mr. Mariner" Award, the Dan Wilson Minor League Community Service Player of the Year and the Dave Henderson Minor League Staff Member of the Year Award.

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.