Cruz late scratch vs. Royals with back spasm

Cruz late scratch vs. Royals with back spasm

KANSAS CITY -- Designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who leads the American League in RBIs, was a late scratch from the Mariners' starting lineup before Friday's 5-2 win over the Royals due to a spasm in his upper back.

"It just hurts to move up and down," Cruz said. "I was stretching to get ready to work out and I started feeling it. I had something like it two years ago in Cleveland, with a huge bump in my back. This isn't as bad, but it's a different spot. It's close to my lat [muscle]."

Cruz was replaced by Guillermo Heredia, who wound up hitting an RBI double to tie the game at 2 in the seventh and then scored the go-ahead run on Jarrod Dyson's single.

Heredia's RBI double

Cruz didn't rule out playing on Saturday, but he clearly was stiff and not moving well in the locker room after the game.

"He was fine when he came in, but he was in the cage taking some swings and had a spasm, and it really locked up on him," manager Scott Servais said. "We'll see how he is tomorrow. He's still pretty tightened up. Obviously when he's not in there, it's a different-looking lineup. We miss him greatly. But guys stepped up, Heredia gave us some great at-bats and that's what you've got to do on those nights."

The 37-year-old Cruz is riding a six-game hitting streak, during which he's gone 8-for-22 with two home runs and five RBIs. For the season, the five-time All-Star has posted a .278/.366/.505 line with 22 home runs and 80 RBIs.

Cruz is one RBI ahead of Orioles All-Star Jonathan Schoop in the AL rankings, with teammate Robinson Cano and Yankees rookie Aaron Judge tied for third with 75.

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