- Calvin Watkins, ESPN Staff Writer
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HOUSTON -- There was an interesting omission from the Texas Rangers defense late in Saturday's 6-5 loss to the Houston Astros. Right fielder Nelson Cruz wasn't in the outfield for the last defensive inning.
He was taken out as a precaution with a tight right quad, and manager Ron Washington wanted some speed in the outfield. He moved center fielder Josh Hamilton to right in the eighth because he was due to bat in the top of the ninth inning. Craig Gentry, a late-game pinch hitter, played center, and Brandon Snyder, another late-game pinch hitter, played left.
Washington said it wasn't anything serious with Cruz, but noticed something was bothering him earlier in the game.
Cruz downplayed his health issue saying he's been battling it for some time.
"Just tightness, nothing big," Cruz said. "It's the right one, it's nothing big. I've been playing [with it] the last three games."
Health isn't the only thing Cruz is battling. He failed to deliver in the top of the eighth inning with his club down a run. With runners at first and second and none out, Cruz hit a liner to right for the first out.
"It wasn't productive," Washington said.
"I just tried to drive the ball and move the runner. That was my approach," Cruz said. "Move the runner, but I hit a flyball deep and I missed my pitch."
Coming into the game, Cruz was hitting .256 with runners in scoring position with a team-high 14 strikeouts in 43 at-bats.
He said he's not pressing in those situations because he's had success in the past as evidenced by his 17 RBIs.
"If I get five at-bats, I want to get five hits," Cruz said of hitting with RISP. "My approach is going to be the same. I've been there before. I know what to do."