The Nelson Cruz press conference took place at 9:30 a.m. this morning and you can watch that on Orioles.com here.
I’ll have a full story up on Cruz shortly, but here is the full transcript of the presser, which was attended by a slew of new teammates and hitting coach Jim Presley. Nick Markakis, Tommy Hunter, Darren O’Day, Manny Machado, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, Chris Davis and Matt Wieters joined the crowds to support Cruz, who mentioned that the O’s are now “a family” and will play as one.
Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette opened with this statement…
I’m glad we could make this the habit, this is the third time we’ve done this this week. i want to welcome our players here, we appreciate your attendance at the conference. The orioles today are announcing a one-year deal with Nelson Cruz. Nelson is a power hitter, he does very well against both left and right-handed pitching. He’s also been a clutch performer in the playoffs, where he’s hit over 14 home runs in 34 games and distinguished himself in 2011 as the MVP of the ALCS. He has an excellent arm on defense and is a proven solid dependable performer in the American League. He presents a good presence in the middle of the lineup which will extend our lineup and make our team more formidable. I want to thank [agent] Adam Katz for his role in helping to bring this agreement together and i want to congratulate Nelson on behalf of the Orioles and wish him a lot of luck.
So is the team done acquiring free agents?
“We’ve been steadily putting our team together. We signed a couple of pitchers which we said we were going to do and we said we were looking for a bat in the middle of our lineup and Nelson can fill that role. We’re always looking, but I don’t anticipate any players of this caliber soon, but we’re always looking around. We’re glad to have Nelson. Nelson is a proven slugger. He’s one of the few guys who has hit over 20 home runs over the last five years and you heard from his former team [about] what a great teammate he is. He’s a real solid addition to our team both personally and by what he brings on the field.”
On joining the lineup: “Every time you play the Orioles the presence of the hitter, that always sticks out in your mind. Hopefully I come in and do my job. Like I said, I’m excited about this opportunity. I’m going to be in a great ballpark in a great division. I like the challenge and I like to compete, so this is the best atmosphere I’ve been in.”
On why the Orioles: ”First of all, I want to thank Dan and Buck and my teammates. Thank you for the support. I think it’s the right fit. I like to compete, I like to be in a race. This is a team that fits right for me. It’s a great environment.”
On if the club was on their radar all winter: “Yeah, it was there since the beginning. That was my goal, one of the teams that I was looking for.”
On if he’s motivated to come back strong after the market dropped for him: “I don’t think I have to prove anything. It was a frustrating process, but I’m happy for the decision that I made. I’m really excited for the opportunity. I like challenges and I think it’s going to be a great challenge for me. Hopefully, I do my best and I look for the World Series.”
On what means to have his teammates present for the presser: “That means they care about their teammates. From experience I know the closer you are to your teammates, the better you’re going to perform on the field. We are now a family and we’re going to stick together the whole time.”
Orioles manager Buck Showalter sat next to Cruz and was asked about his brief time managing him.
“He was a puppy then,” Buck quipped. “He’s a grizzled veteran now.”
Cruz added: ”He was kind of my first manager, the one who gave me a chance to play almost every day, and I’m happy to be with him again.”
“He made us look smart,” Showalter said. “That was an easy evaluation. I’m real proud of the way he’s evolved not only as a player, but as a person and teammate. The one common denominator when you talk to people about Nelson is about his relationship with his teammates and his city. This is one of the most popular players in Texas. He’s a real sincere guy. It’s one of those things where he’ll show you, not talk about it. That part of the equation we felt real good about. And any time you’ve got first-hand knowledge of a guy, the way he conducts himself, you feel real good about that part. The only thing you want to have challenge guys is the game itself, and he has a way of making his teammates better by the way he treats them.”