PITTSBURGH- When Oneil Cruz went down on April 9 with a fractured left ankle, the Pittsburgh Pirates were forced to adapt and adopt the next man up mentality.
For the most part, Tucupita Marcano and Rodolfo Castro have filled those shoes rather well, but the Pirates would be remiss to say they didn’t miss their 6-foot-7 shortstop.
On June 1, it was reported that Cruz should be out of his walking boot soon, and Director of Sports Medicine Todd Tomczyk mentioned that it should be next week that the boot should be removed.
Saturday afternoon, Cruz was made available to the Pittsburgh media.
“It feels good to come here and see my teammates,” said Cruz. “The process of rehabbing has been what we expected. You never want to get hurt obviously, but that’s part of the game, and it happened to me. I’m just going to take it the way it is and get better as soon as possible.”
Cruz continued on how he felt as of now and how much of a relief it is to avoid a season-ending injury.
“I’m feeling better every day. I’m just doing the work I need to do to get better every day. It feels good that it’s not a season-ending [injury], but that’s not in my control. I’m going to leave everything to the medical team and whatever they think is going to be the time will be the time and I’ll be there.”
What exactly is the next step in this process for Cruz?
“All they want as medical staff is to put myself in a good spot where I can feel 100%. After that, it’s up to them and I’ll be ready to go.”
When someone goes through a tough injury like Cruz, there are times when you can have some hesitancy to go back out there and do the same things you did before the injury.
“I should be good when I get out there,” said Cruz on having any potential hesitancy. I should be 100% when I go out there. I’m not going to hesitate, I’m just going to go out there and do my best.”
On the other end of the spectrum, some guys come back from an injury even stronger.
“That can be possible,” said Cruz on the possibility of coming back stronger. “I’m working on that, and we will see. Hopefully that’s the case”
Right before Cruz talked to the media, he was walking in on crutches. Cruz expressed to the media that he goes back and forth between the crutches and the boot, and he anticipates being out of the boot very soon.
During Cruz’s absence, the Pirates have used Marcano, Castro, and a few others in that shortstop role. Castro and Marcano both have provided adequate play.
“I’m happy that Tuc and Castro have had the opportunity to play at short,” said Cruz. “We go back to the minors, and every time I see them doing well, it makes me happy.”
The exact timeframe remains to be seen on Cruz’s return from the IL, but it seems like everything is on schedule, and we should be seeing him in a Pirates’ uniform sometime this year.