Spring Training Spotlight - Deivi Cruz

Is Proven Track Record Enough?

Signed as a free agent in December, Deivi (pronounced DAY-vee) is expected to play back up at second, third and shortstop. His claim to fame may be, according to Cardinal Manager, Tony La Russa, Cruz is likely the only player on the Cardinal roster that won't be asked to play left field at some point and time.

The Cardinals' Clubhouse seems to be filled with infielders. In addition to the starters, the locker room is filled with the likes of; Aaron Miles, Scott Spiezio, Junior Spivey, Travis Hanson, Hector Luna, Brian Daubach, and Brendan Ryan.

There are only so many positions on the bench for a infielder that doesn't win a starting job.

The only opening on the infield is at second base. Early on Junior Spivey is considered the front runner for that job, with Aaron Miles possibly providing some competition when he returns from the sidelines where he has been nursing a sprained wrist.

Considered primarily a shortstop, Cruz can play second and third base and that flexibility gives him an edge on the competition. As a matter of fact the scuttlebutt has been, that a key reason Cruz was signed to a contract this past winter, was to be insurance and a back up for Scott Rolen at third.

To date, Cruz is struggling at the plate in spring training, going 0-14 in his first seven games. His easy going, laid back style may hurt his chances of making a club that is looking for someone to step up and win the starting job at second or one of those two infielder reserve positions on the bench.

To his credit, Cruz has been one of baseball's most durable and proven shortstops, ranking 6th among all big leaguers with 1,124 games at that position between 1997-2005 (Derek Jeter is tops at 1,3480)

A solid glove man, Cruz is tied with three other Major Leaguers with the ninth-highest fielding percentage ever by a shortstop, logging a .978 career mark (107 errors, 4,849 total chances).

Last season, Deivi began the season with the San Francisco Giants before being traded to the Washington Nationals prior to the August 31 trade deadline.

Cruz hit .268 with five home runs and 19 RBI in 81 games for the Giants and .255 with one RBI in 20 games for the Nationals and he made just four errors in the field, appearing at second base, third base and shortstop with 285 total chances.

Cruz would have to be considered a favorite to make the club as the primary back up infielder. His early struggles at the plate and the emergence of Scott Spiezio who is off to a great start and Cruz may have trouble making the team.

A defensive specialist, the Cardinals still need to see some offense from him.

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