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Mariners, Cruz excited for Players Weekend

New event to take place during all games from Aug. 25-27
MLB.com

OAKLAND -- Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz has had the "Boomstick" nickname for seven years.

But on Aug. 25-27, Cruz will get a chance to wear "Boomstick" on the back of his jersey as Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association introduce the inaugural Players Weekend, when all players will wear colorful, non-traditional uniforms featuring alternate designs.

OAKLAND -- Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz has had the "Boomstick" nickname for seven years.

But on Aug. 25-27, Cruz will get a chance to wear "Boomstick" on the back of his jersey as Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association introduce the inaugural Players Weekend, when all players will wear colorful, non-traditional uniforms featuring alternate designs.

"I think, at any point in your life, you want to do what you want with your uniform," Cruz said. "I think it's fun for us as players, and I think the fans are going to like it. I think it's going to be great for baseball."

Players Weekend gear available at MLBShop.com

Cruz and the rest of the Mariners will have the opportunity to have a nickname placed on the back of the jerseys made by Majestic Athletic, as well as to wear and use uniquely colored and designed spikes, batting gloves, wristbands, compression sleeves, catcher's masks and bats.

"Just being able to flaunt how you are as a person definitely comes in to play, because some teams are stricter than others with some of the stuff." Mariners reliever Marc Rzepczynski said. "It's nice that we are able to personalize that stuff and be able to show who we are. I'm definitely looking forward to it."

After nine years in the Majors, the left-hander with baseball's toughest name to spell has long been called "Scrabble" by baseball fans amused by his last name. But Rzepczynski chose to go with what he's called in every clubhouse he's been in: "Zep."

"I've had it since Little League, so I might as well continue with it," Rzepczynski said. "With the chance to put it on the back there, hopefully people will start to know my nickname is Zep."

The Mariners will be on the road during the Players Weekend, playing against the Yankees. Cruz promises that he'll be posting on his social media accounts throughout the weekend, though it'll be tough to top what he posted after the All-Star Game.

"We try to enjoy the game, and it makes it more fun," Cruz said. "I'm excited to see with what the guys can come up with and what ideas they have. Especially with shoes -- they're going to be bright."

In addition, players will wear specially designed caps by New Era, and unique socks from Stance. During pregame workouts and postgame interviews, they will wear T-shirts highlighting a charity or cause of their choice.

Also, each player will wear a special patch on his sleeve showing the progression of a child evolving into a Major Leaguer. Under that logo is white space, and every player will mark a name of a person who they are grateful to for helping them advance their careers, such as family or a coach.

Rzepczynski put his parents on his patch, while Cruz put Evaristo "Varo" Lantigua, his Dominican Summer League coach with the A's.

Game-worn, Players Weekend jerseys will be auctioned at MLB.com/auctions with 100% of net proceeds donated to the MLB-MLBPA Youth Development Foundation, a joint effort established in July 2015 by MLB and the MLBPA with an initial commitment of $30 million focused on improving the caliber, effectiveness and availability of amateur baseball and softball programs across the U.S. and Canada.

The uniforms will first be worn by the Pirates and Cardinals during the MLB Little League Classic to be played in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on Sunday, August 20 during the 2017 Little League World Series. That game will take place at Bowman Field, home of the Williamsport Crosscutters, a Phillies affiliate in the short-season Class A New York-Penn League.

Here's a list of nicknames that some Mariners are expected to sport on the back of their jerseys on Players Weekend:

Robinson Cano: DON'T YOU KNOW
Kyle Seager: COREY'S BROTHER
Jean Segura: EL MAMBO
Jarrod Dyson: ZOOMBIYA
• Nelson Cruz: BOOMSTICK
Guillermo Heredia: EL CONDE
Edwin Diaz: SUGAR
Yovani Gallardo: YO
James Paxton: BIG MAPLE
Carlos Ruiz: CHOOCH

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.