ANAHEIM -- It wasn't exactly the kind of 37th birthday present Nelson Cruz was looking for as the Mariners designated hitter was taken out of Saturday night's 4-0 loss to the Angels in the fifth inning because of a sore right knee.Cruz was examined by a doctor and no structural
ANAHEIM -- It wasn't exactly the kind of 37th birthday present Nelson Cruz was looking for as the Mariners designated hitter was taken out of Saturday night's 4-0 loss to the Angels in the fifth inning because of a sore right knee.
Cruz was examined by a doctor and no structural damage was apparent, but he'll be evaluated again Sunday morning before determining if he's available for the afternoon's 12:37 p.m. PT series finale.
"It started pretty good, but the finish was not that good," Cruz said of his birthday, with a half-eaten cake sitting on a nearby table in the visiting clubhouse at Angel Stadium. "I felt it sliding into second base. I don't know exactly what happened. I think I put too much pressure on it when I slid in. I had a little pain, so we're going to take another look tomorrow."
Cruz had the Mariners' first of just three hits all night off Angels right-hander Ricky Nolasco, with a leadoff single in the second, but he was thrown out trying to stretch it to a double by center fielder Cameron Maybin.
Cruz stutter-stepped awkwardly at first base when he rounded the bag, then was out on a close play at second as shortstop Andrelton Simmons applied the tag. But he said the issue at first was simply because he lost sight of the ball he'd driven into left-center field and the knee was fine until he slid.
"Running to first base, I had no clue where the ball was," he said. "So I almost missed first base, trying to see the ball. He made a pretty good throw. It was on the money."
Cruz was replaced at DH in his next at-bat in the fifth by catcher Mike Zunino, who had been given the day off behind the plate.
Cruz is hitting .287 with 14 home runs and a team-leading 59 RBIs, though he's now gone 22 games without a home run. That's his longest stretch without a homer since 2012.
The big DH has been hampered by a sore calf and hand at times in the past month, but has felt better of late and wasn't about to hang his head over another nagging injury.
"There's nothing you can do," he said. "I wish I could dominate everything and do it the way I want. But it's not like that. It's part of the game. You have to deal with injuries, you have to deal with struggles. You just have to stay positive and when the moments come, just keep doing it. Keep working and hopefully I'll be able to be out there soon."
The Mariners are carrying an extra reliever, so they only have three players on their bench, which would make it difficult if Cruz were to miss much time. Outfielder Boog Powell was removed from Triple-A Tacoma's game shortly after Cruz was taken out of the Mariners' game and would be a logical addition, but manager Scott Servais declined to say if a roster move was pending.
"We'll see how it is tomorrow and where we go from there," Servais said.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [