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After hero treatment in Mexico, Luis Cruz prepares to repeat

December 13, 2012|By Dylan Hernandez
  • Luis Cruz batted .297 with six home runs and 40 RBIs for the Dodgers in 78 games last season.
Luis Cruz batted .297 with six home runs and 40 RBIs for the Dodgers in 78 games… (Christina House / For The…)

Luis Cruz didn’t understand the magnitude of what he had accomplished until he returned to his off-season home in Sinaloa, Mexico.

“You don’t realize that when you’re playing every day,” Cruz said.

Upon returning home, Cruz was honored by the mayor of his hometown.

He later watched videos of his games with the Dodgers and was reminded how the fans at Dodger Stadium used to say, “Cruuuuuuz,” in unison whenever he stepped to the plate.

“It’s unbelievable,” Cruz said. “I always say it’s like a dream. I want to keep dreaming next year.”

An overachiever on a Dodgers team that underachieved last season, Cruz said he is determined to show that what he did in his three-month stint in the major leagues was no fluke. In 78 games with the Dodgers, the career minor leaguer batted .297 with six home runs and 40 runs batted in.

Manager Don Mattingly said last week that Cruz would get the first crack to become the team’s starting third baseman. Cruz said his goal is to win the job.

“I know people are going to be expecting a lot from me and I’m going to be expecting a lot from myself,” Cruz said. “I know I can do it. I worked 12 years in the minor leagues to be here.”

Cruz has played nine games this winter in the Mexican league for the Tomateros de Culiacan, exclusively at third base. But he said he plans to also play second base and in the outfield.

“My goal is to be ready for spring training and keep doing what I was doing the last three months of the season,” Cruz said. “Hopefully, they give me a shot and I could do what I did last year.”

The Dodgers have some concerns with how Cruz didn’t draw any walks in his last 31 games, but Cruz said he hasn’t given it much thought.

“Not really,” he said. “It’s my game. That’s the way I play. I’m different from all the guys who walk a lot. I like to swing the bat.”

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