Nelson Cruz says he feels fine.
On Thursday, during a fourth-inning at-bat against Mike Clevinger, he grimaced as he swung through a 2-1 pitch. Minnesota Twins athletic trainer Matt Biancuzzo went out to check on his wrist, and he was removed from the game. C.J. Cron, who was just on the injured list with a sore thumb that stymied his hot streak, stepped in and struck out on Clevinger’s first offering.
“The ligament is torn,” Cruz said Friday. “The way it feels today is really good. It’s a miracle that it feels like that.”
It was a tough guy act. Had to be, right?
“It actually ruptured in the middle of the year and nobody even knew about it. That’ll tell you,” said Justin Morneau minutes later. “It was the best it felt all year, was after it ruptured. It hurt every swing before that, and when it ruptured, it felt good.”
Morneau was standing in a purple suit at the back of Rocco Baldelli’s daily press availability. He said he grew comfortable wearing the color while playing for the Colorado Rockies, where he played the year after he was traded from the Twins to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013.
He tore his extensor carpi ulnaris (ECL) tendon in 2012, after having surgery on it in 2011, and played until the 2016 season with, gulp, the Chicago White Sox. He hit .316/.363/.487 in two seasons in Denver, and his .319 batting average led the NL in 2014.
“To be fair to everyone, everyone deals with it differently, though,” said Baldelli, who asked Morneau to speak on the injury after his availability was done. “There are some people, when it ruptures, that’s not a good scenario at all. And there are some people, so I’ve heard, like that — like [Morneau] — who have dealt with it and it actually felt somewhat better or a lot better.”
“There was instability, but there was no more pain, which was good,” said Morneau, pointing at the nub of his wrist opposite his thumb and running his finger down his forearm.
“The other stuff, they say if you do that, the other [tendons] start to take over. How long it takes to do that depends on the guy, but he’s as strong as anybody in baseball, so if anybody’s suited to be able to go for it… I don’t even know if I went on the DL when it happened in July.”
So when Cruz says he’s pain-free, he’s being honest.
“Yesterday, it was pretty painful,” he said. “I guess when the tendon tore, that’s what I felt. I wasn’t able to grab anything. Once I got some tape and they checked it out, it started feeling normal. It feels good now.”
What appeared to potentially be a year-ending injury, or at least one that might keep him out long enough to cool off, now could truly just require a 10-day recovery period. The Twins aren’t committed entirely to that timeline, but he’s pain-free now, and, hey, Morneau played just fine after rupturing the same tendon.