Cruz collects hit in Dominican Winter debut

Cruz collects hit in Dominican Winter debut

SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz went 1-for-4 with a single and scored a run on Tuesday, as the Mariners star made his debut for Gigantes in a 7-5 loss to Aguilas in the Dominican Winter League playoffs.

Cruz plans to play for about two weeks for the Dominican squad in the round-robin portion of the playoffs, which runs through Jan. 17, as he gets in some early hitting in preparation for the World Baseball Classic in March.

Mariners teammate Robinson Cano played one game in the Dominican League on Dec. 22, going 0-for-4 for his local Estrellas squad, but is now done after that team was eliminated from postseason contention.

There was some thought that Cano might hook on with Gigantes so he could continue playing, but the Mariners indicated Tuesday that the seven-time All-Star won't play again until Spring Training in February.

Similarly, Mariners ace Felix Hernandez pitched five innings over two games with his hometown Magallanes team in the Venezuelan Winter League, but is now done until spring since his club did not make the playoffs.

All three are expected to play for their countries in the WBC, which begins in the first week of March.

Cruz played designated hitter for Gigantes in his debut. He had an infield single and scored in the seventh inning in a four-run rally on a slow roller to second baseman Jonathan Villar. The 36-year-old also grounded out to third in the second inning and struck out in the fifth and eighth.

Former Mariners shortstop Ketel Marte also made his winter ball debut in the game and went 0-for-3 with a walk while playing second base for Gigantes. Marte was traded to the D-backs in December along with Taijuan Walker in a five-player deal that brought shortstop Jean Segura, outfielder Mitch Haniger and lefty reliever Zac Curtis to Seattle.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for 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.