Cruz shares his big moments

When Jose Enrique Cruz closes his eyes, he can still picture 24,000 screaming fans cheering his Rice team in the 2003 College World Series.

“That was easily one of the top three moments of my life,” Cruz said.

But batting .352 with 10 home runs and 57 RBIs while winning a national championship with the Owls in ’03 is not the most memorable moment of Cruz’s baseball career. No, that all-time greatest moment came in a run-of-the-mill winter league game in Puerto Rico two years ago.

Cruz was playing with his older brother, Jose Cruz Jr. — the longtime major league outfielder — for Ponce Leonas and something special happened. The Cruz boys, sons of former major leaguer Jose Cruz, hit back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches.

“I give him grief because I battled for that one,” Cruz said with a laugh. “He hit a bomb and I’ve always wanted to play with my brother and for us to do that, it was great.”

Now, Cruz is the York Revolution’s utility infielder. But with the loss of shortstop Kenny Perez to the Colorado Rockies last week, Cruz has suddenly found himself in the lineup a lot more often. And needless to say, that’s what he’s been waiting for.

Cruz is also only 26 years old — players of that age are often a rarity in the veteran-laden Atlantic League — but he hasn’t felt intimidated in a locker room full of former major leaguers. Instead, he’s finally starting to feel better at the plate.

“You try to talk to them more and pick their brain, because obviously they’ve been to the highest level,” Cruz said of playing with former big leaguers. “Anything you can learn from a big league guy is a plus.”

Cruz was 3-for-12 with two doubles, two stolen bases and two runs scored in York’s 2-2 series split with Camden over the weekend. 

He has also shown a willingness to work the count, which seemed like a lost art on the Revolution during the first 40 games of the first half.

And hopefully with a bit more playing time, Cruz will emerge as the full-time answer for the Revs at second base.

“We’ve given him a chance to play and I think since we put him in that (utility) role he’s started swinging the bat well,” manager Chris Hoiles said. “He’s playing great defense for us and he can do the little things to help us out.” 

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