Friday, April 28, 2006

Fireballer Juan Cruz Moves Into D-Backs Rotation

Juan Cruz, 27, the fireballing righty whose career has been marked by brilliance interspersed with mediocrity, will replace struggling veteran Russ Ortiz in the Arizona Diamondbacks rotation. Cruz, whose fastball is clocked in the high 90s, will be placed on an 80-pitch limit until his endurance can be increased as he has spent a majority of his career in a relief role. However, Cruz started 13 games for the AAA Sacramento River Rats last year, posting a 2.40 ERA with five wins and a loss. Throughout his career, even when dealing with wildness and other difficulties associated with youngsters who throw hard, Cruz has been dependable for more than a strikeout per inning. This year he has 14 Ks in 12 relief innings, but has doled out 10 free passes. He will move into the No. 2 spot in the Snakes rotation, as manager Bob Melvin wants him sandwiched between the team's best starters, Brandon Webb and Miguel Batista, so that the bullpen will likely be rested on either side of Cruz's starts when Cruz comes out early. Cruz was acquired in a trade with Oakland for lefty Brad Halsey.