SAN DIEGO — Nelson Cruz has won plenty of awards in his day. This offseason alone, he’s won a Silver Slugger Award and has been given the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award.
So, it was anything but surprising to see him being honored once again on Tuesday, Dec. 10.
Cruz earned a spot on the inaugural All-MLB team as the best designated hitter in 2019.
Cruz was the first-team honoree and Houston’s Yordan Alvarez was the second-team selection.
The first and second teams were chosen by a combination of fan voting and a panel that included members of the media, broadcasters, former players and other officials.
Cruz, 39, hit .311 with a .392 on-base percentage and a .639 slugging percentage in his first season as a Twin. His 1.031 OPS was fourth in the majors and second in the American League behind just Mike Trout.
He hit 41 home runs — including the 400th of his career — while driving in 108 runs last season.
He did so while battling a wrist problem for much of the year that threatened to cut his season short. And on top of his offensive output, he was frequently applauded for the impact he had in the clubhouse and on his teammates.
“He’s honed his routine and his life in really well and it’s great for the rest of our players to be able to watch that because their life is going to be different than Nellie’s and their routine will be different but they see it done in a really good way,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Nellie does everything in a good way.”
The six-time all-star will return to the Twins in 2020 after the team picked up his club option near the beginning of the offseason.
Buxton, Polanco on track
Everything is “all good so far,” chief baseball officer said Derek Falvey said, for center fielder Byron Buxton and shortstop Jorge Polanco, both of whom are coming off of surgeries.
Buxton had surgery on his left shoulder in September and Baldelli, who has communicated with Buxton this offseason, reported back that the center fielder said he’s feeling great.
“Based on our check-ins and talking with his agent and talking with our trainers and our medical people that have been around it, he’s continuing to do his physical therapy and rehab,” Falvey said. “…There’s an upcoming check-in here at some point to make sure that we’re still on schedule but as of last report, it was in a good place.”
Polanco underwent right ankle surgery last month. Falvey said he had spent time in Fort Myers, Fla., post-surgery working with the team’s training staff and is also in a good place.
Boras (briefly) talks Twins
Mega-agent Scott Boras held court near the media room on Tuesday afternoon in San Diego, fielding questions mainly about his higher-profile clients.
While Gerrit Cole, the top pitcher on the market, commanded a lot of the attention, Boras does have other pitching clients who could be of interest to the Twins, including Hyun-Jin Ryu and possibly Dallas Keuchel.
“Certainly, they have let us know that they have a strong interest in improving their pitching staff,” Boras said of the Twins.
Ryu, a longtime Dodger, reportedly expressed a preference to stay out on the West Coast, though Boras somewhat dismissed that, saying he wasn’t sure that was relevant because of the distance between Seoul and any MLB franchise.