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McClendon not concerned about Cruz's power

Batting average still solid during Mariners slugger's two-week home run drought

HOUSTON -- Though Mariners slugger Nelson Cruz had gone 14 games without a home run heading into Sunday's series finale, manager Lloyd McClendon said he doesn't think Cruz's recent bout with back spasms has anything to do with that.

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"No, the back just started hurting," McClendon said. "I think home run hitters hit them in streaks. He's swinging, and the bat speed is there. He's not favoring it all. He's fine."

Though Cruz had just two RBIs in the 14-game span, he batted .283.

"He's doing a nice job," McClendon said. "He's using the entire field to hit, he's not pulling off. He's the type of hitter, when he gets hot, they come in bunches. When he cools off, he still gets his hits, just not as many home runs."

Cruz had 18 home runs and 38 RBIs in his first 46 games in a torrid start with his new club, and he still ranks among the American League leaders in all three Triple Crown categories despite the two-week let-up in power.

Where does Cruz rank on his list of current concerns?

"Probably at the bottom," McClendon said.

Since sitting out two games to rest his back, Cruz has played two games at designated hitter and one in right field. With the Mariners headed to San Francisco on Monday to open a two-game Interleague series with the Giants, Cruz is set to play in right field in both of those games.

"It's pretty safe to say he'll be in the field both days," McClendon said. "He will be in the lineup."

Greg Johns is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast.
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