If there's a player who knows altitude is a factor in Mexico City, it's Boomstick

Effects of elevation were evident to Nelson Cruz at last year's event

April 27th, 2024

MEXICO CITY -- With an altitude of 7,350 feet in Mexico's capital, more than 2,000 feet higher than Denver, it would be reasonable to expect a healthy dose of home runs at Estadio Alfredo Harp Helú for the Mexico City Series on Saturday and Sunday between the Astros and Rockies.

At last year’s Mexico City Series between the Giants and Padres -- the first MLB regular season games in the city -- a Major League record was tied in the first contest with 11 home runs by 10 different players, in addition to a new mark of eight of the 11 round-trippers connected back-to-back. The second game produced four more, for a total of 15 in the series.

One of the Padres players from last year’s Mexico City Series, the recently retired Nelson Cruz, reflected this week on the effect of the elevation in a phone conversation with MLB.com.

“The altitude is an important factor,” said Cruz, currently a special assistant in the Dodgers front office. “It’s like playing in Colorado, I’d say, but double or triple the effect, because [Mexico City] is a little higher. You have the benefit that when you hit the ball, there’s a better chance of a hit or even a home run. The negative part is that you get tired more quickly; the fatigue sets in fast.”

As the home runs started to pile up for both teams in that first game last year, there was a certain buzz in San Diego’s dugout on how to go about taking advantage of the different atmospheric conditions.

“We were talking about the fact that you didn’t have to hit the ball that hard [for quality contact], and that created a much simpler approach,” Cruz remembered. “It was just trying to hit the ball with the good part of the bat and that you didn’t have to make as much of an effort to hit a home run or to hit the ball well.”

Cruz, from Las Matas de Santa Cruz, Dominican Republic, was part of the Dominican Republic Game during 2020 Spring Training as a member of the Twins, and was also present at last month’s Dominican Republic Series between the Rays and the Red Sox at Santo Domingo’s Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal.

“It’s a great idea to try to expand the game and take it other places,” Cruz said. “I think those are important steps to expand the game. That’s what it’s about, getting it to a wider audience [so] that baseball fans feel that they’re being given the gift of the game itself.”