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Monday, October 17, 2011
Nelson Cruz staying at No. 7 and he's good

By Jeff Caplan

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Stop the calls for Nelson Cruz to move to cleanup or fifth or elsewhere in the batting order. An historic American League Championship Series won't even make Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington change the lineup.

"No," Washington said, "I'm not."

Cruz will bat seventh when the World Series begins Wednesday night at the St. Louis Cardinals.

The slugger crushed six home runs and drove in 13 RBIs in the six-game ALCS. No player in major league history had ever produced such a series. Should Cruz be hitting higher in the lineup? Surely on any other team he would be. Is Cruz OK with batting seventh?

"I guess, yeah," Cruz said in a way that seemed to suggest, not really. "I just want to be in the lineup. That's the only thing that I care about."

Cruz said he's never asked, begged or pleaded for Washington to move him.

"You can do whatever you want. You're going to be there, there's nothing else you can do, just accept it and go out there and play," Cruz said. "He [Washington] knows what he's doing. We don't worry about that stuff. Let the manager worry about it."

The only worry might be when the designated hitter is not in effect at the National League park. With the pitcher batting two spots down, might it affect the pitches Nelson will see? The Cardinals pitchers might feel more freedom to pitch around him.

"Probably," Washington acknowledged. "I don't know for sure because our No. 8 hitter is pretty good, too, so it probably will. Once again, if they decide not to pitch to Nelson, then whomever is hitting behind Nelson is going to have to do the delivering and we feel confident that they will."

Cruz is hitting .243 for the postseason. He obviously had yet to heat up against Tampa Bay, which was a reflection of much of his last month of the season after returning from a hamstring strain. His struggles at the plate got him dropped in the order. He even hit eighth once.

He hit .364 in the ALCS with eight of his nine postseason hits coming in the series. All eight went for extra-base hits and earned him the series MVP award.

Cruz smiled at the notion that he might like to sprinkle in a single here and there.

"I have one," he said. "In the Tampa series."