Mariners’ Nelson Cruz brings new meaning to the term ‘power nap’

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During a recent series in Baltimore, the Mariners DH spent the better part of last Thursday’s finale napping on one of the big black leather couches in the visitors clubhouse at Camden Yards. Call it a Cruz snooze. Then he went out and punished the Orioles, collecting three hits and a home run against his former team to lead Seattle to a 4-2 win and an impressive four-game road sweep.

To be sure, napping prior to a game is hardly a revolutionary practice among baseball players. That said, it’s more the exception than the norm, especially in visiting clubhouses. That doesn’t stop Cruz from crushing some shuteye just as routinely as he crushes baseballs.cheap nike nfl jerseys paypal

“Nelly likes to get his sleep,” Mariners outfielder Ben Gamel said. “He knows his body really well. If that’s what it takes for him, then that’s what it takes.”

What it takes for Cruz is a regular siesta that comes after he hits the gym and after he takes swings in the cage, and ideally lasts for a full hour, although 30 or 40 minutes will suffice in a pinch. Because that Thursday game against the O’s was an early 3:05 start and there was no batting practice beforehand, the 37-year-old vet had no trouble carving out enough time for his precious Z’s. The challenge lay in creating the optimal conditions.
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Unlike the home clubhouse at Safeco Field, where there’s a separate room that players can retreat to for some respite, road venues vary in their conduciveness. According to Cruz, the toughest places to catch a few winks are the visiting locker rooms in Boston and Oakland (too small), while the ones in Houston and Baltimore are the most inviting, thanks to space and couch comfort. If there aren’t any blankets, as is typically the case, he’ll drape towels over his body. If it’s too noisy, like it was at Camden Yards, he’ll throw in some earbuds and drift off to the sounds of Juan Luis Guerra with the hood of his sweatshirt pulled low over his face. Sometimes he dreams, sometimes he doesn’t. On this particular day, he dreamed about Ichiro Suzuki. Then he went out and hit like Ichiro.

Despite missing the previous two games with back stiffness, Cruz swung the bat as if he’d never left the lineup, going 3-for-5 and mashing his 21st homer of the season. He now has 22.

“He’s a pro,” said Scott Servais, who’s the manager of a Seattle club that knows a thing or two about professional hitters. After all, the Emerald City was home to Edgar Martinez, who amassed more than 2,000 hits as a Mariner during an 18-year career in which he batted .312 and became arguably the greatest designated hitter of all time.nfl nike jerseys cheap china

Although Martinez is long since retired and now serves as the M’s hitting coach, Seattle still has the DH market cornered thanks to Cruz. The husky righty signed with the Mariners as a free agent following the 2014 season, when he led the majors in homers as a member of the Orioles. In Baltimore, he split his time almost 50/50 between playing the outfield and DHing. These days, he has pretty much hung up the leather: After playing just five games in the outfield last season, he has yet to make an appearance in the field this year. In other words, all Nelson Cruz does is hit. And hit and hit and hit.