PEORIA, Ariz. — Nelson Cruz is scheduled to log his first outfield time of the spring Thursday as the starting right fielder when the Mariners play the Oakland Athletics in Mesa.
Cruz's previous four spring games came as the designated hitter.
“I’m confident that he can play the outfield,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, “but he needs to be out there.
“I’m trying to be as smart as I can be with this. Give him some time out there to keep him sharp but, at the same time, keep him healthy. He’ll be out there a few more times for sure.”
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Cruz played primarily left field last season in Baltimore when not serving as the DH, but any time he gets in the Mariners’ outfield is likely to be in right.
“I think he’s probably more comfortable in right field,” McClendon said.
Plans call for comedian Will Ferrell to replace Willie Bloomquist at second base in the second inning of Thursday’s game against Oakland at HoHoKam Stadium.
Ferrell is attempting to play for 10 clubs in five Cactus League games in the same day as part of an effort to bolster public awareness in the fight against cancer.
HBO is filming Ferrell’s efforts for broadcast later in the year.
“It is for a good cause,” McClendon said. “We’ll get through it. It’s a little bump in the road (in terms of routine), but what he’s doing is for a good charity. A lot of folks have been touched by this, so we’re all for it.”
Right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma was ticketed for four innings Thursday morning in a simulated game against a collection of minor-league players on one of the Mariners' practice fields.
McClendon opted against having Iwakuma pitch against the A’s because the two teams play April 10-12 in Oakland.
The Mariners are taking the same approach Sunday with Felix Hernandez, who will pitch in a simulated game rather than face the Dodgers. The Mariners play April 13-15 in Los Angeles.