SENDAI – The Pacific League-leading Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles on Wednesday bolstered their middle infield by purchasing Luis Cruz from the Central League’s Yomiuri Giants.
The 33-year-old Mexican was in his second season with Yomiuri after spending two years with the PL’s Chiba Lotte Marines. Cruz, who won a Golden Glove at second base in 2015, can also play shortstop, making him a valuable addition to the Eagles, who have been hurt by injuries up the middle.
“I’m very happy to be here. I am here to give all I’ve got in order to win a championship,” Cruz told the media at Kobo Park Miyagi in Spanish.
Cruz was limited to 81 games last season because of injury, and this year has played in just nine as the odd man out in the Giants’ foreign contingent. Yomiuri has chosen to stick with slugging third baseman Casey McGehee, starting pitcher Miles Mikolas, and relievers Scott Mathieson and Arquimedes Caminero.
The only playing opportunity Cruz had came when Caminero was sent to the farm on June 2, as Yomiuri went into panic mode during its franchise-worst 13-game losing streak.
Cruz, who had been hitting .305 in the Eastern League with 10 homers in 48 games, appeared eager for the chance.
“We are leading the league so there is good chance of winning a championship, and I have come prepared to play,” he said. “I am grateful to the team for giving me this opportunity. I’ve been playing against this team and I feel it is solid.”
On June 17, star Eagles shortstop and leadoff hitter Eigoro Mogi suffered a bone bruise on his right elbow. On July 12, three-time Golden Glove-winning second baseman Kazuya Fujita was sidelined with lower back pain.
“The organization has moved to address our middle infield deficiency,” Eagles skipper Masataka Nashida said.