Potential DH Cruz wants experience in outfield

Potential DH Cruz wants experience in outfield

SARASOTA, Fla. -- New Oriole Nelson Cruz wants to play the outfield as much as possible this spring.

The veteran outfielder grounded out in his only at-bat in the team's intrasquad game on Thursday, and Cruz -- who figures to be the team's designated hitter -- said he told manager Buck Showalter during their talk Wednesday that he wants to get a lot of reps in the field.

"I told [Showalter] I want to play most of my games in the outfield, especially during Spring Training, so I get everything done," said Cruz, who is expected to make his Grapefruit League debut in the team's home opener Saturday.

"It depends on how you feel; sometimes in Spring Training in your first at-bat, you feel great. It's about feeling good. Sometimes you can get hits and you don't feel like it should be hits, but it happens. Let's see how it feels Saturday and how many at-bats I take."

Cruz hit ninth Thursday, which he said he probably hadn't done since his days starting out in the Dominican Republic, but he said that it doesn't matter to him where he is in the lineup. Showalter made the lineups out in reverse alphabetical order, the opposite of Wednesday, and Cruz is expected to slot into the middle of the lineup for actual games.

As for his new uniform, Cruz -- who will wear No. 23 with No. 17 already taken -- quipped: "I wanted to take the number from [Wayne] Kirby."

Cruz and Kirby, the Orioles first-base coach, go back to their days in the Texas organization together. Kirby sported No. 99 for Thursday's intrasquad game, but he will wear 24 when the season starts.

"I thought nobody wore Number 23," Cruz said. "They asked me, do you want to wear 23? I guess I'm going to have to buy something for [Kirby]."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.