As the Dodger win streak moves on, the team is moving on from a sort of cult figure heading into the weekend as well.
Luis Cruz, who hit .297/6 HRs/40 RBIs over a 2 1/2 month stretch last year and won many admirers amongst the Dodger fan base for his hot hitting and slick fielding, has been designated for assignment.
Cruz was batting .127 with 1 HR and 6 RBIs this season and had seen his playing time reduced further and further as the season wore on and fellow utility players Nick Punto and Skip Schumaker performed at much higher levels. Cruz has been mostly a minor leaguer throughout his career, with brief stops in Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. His only sustained major league success came last year when the man known as “Cochito” was a spark plug in a Dodger offense that often struggled down the stretch last year.
Cruz was designated for assignment due to being out of options and having already been outrighted to the minors one time prior in his career. The Dodgers have ten days to trade Cruz or offer him a release from his contract, which would enable him to sign on with another team. The Dodgers can also offer Cruz a minor league assignment, but Cruz can refuse the assignment and become a free agent.
The move to designate Cruz for assignment came on the heels of the news that Scott Van Slyke has been activated from the disabled list as the Dodgers continue a trend toward fielding a healthy team for the first time all season. Van Slyke, who was hitting .221 with 6 HR and 11 RBIs before his injury, returns to find the Dodger outfield crowded. Van Slyke will primarily be the team’s fourth outfielder and a power-hitting bat off the bench, as well as have the ability to back Adrian Gonzalez up at first base.
For many Dodger fans, the loss of Cruz is bittersweet. His statistics did not merit keeping him on the team, but his efforts in the 2012 season mean that he also left many fond impressions in his time in Los Angeles for the fans to remember him by. The chants of “CRUUUUUUUUZ” that resonated around Dodger Stadium down the stretch last year may be gone, but they will not soon be forgotten.
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