SEATTLE -- Nelson Cruz was in the Rangers' lineup on Saturday for the first time since straining his left hamstring muscle on Aug. 28 against the Angels. Cruz started at designated hitter and likely will start there on Sunday.
"That's the plan, but let's get through today and see how it comes out," manager Ron Washington said. "It's cool out there today, you never know what the recovery time will be."
Cruz will not play the outfield until Tuesday in Oakland at the earliest. That's what Cruz is hoping for, but the final decision rests with Washington.
"I'm feeling good," Cruz said. "Yesterday I ran and didn't feel anything, but playing a game is totally different."
Washington understands that. He has talked with Cruz about "managing" the hamstring the same way that Adrian Beltre has dealt with it. Beltre missed five weeks with a strained hamstring and has had no problems since returning at the beginning of September.
Managing the hamstring means being cautious and not reckless, especially when running the bases.
"He knows what's at stake," Washington said. "I don't want him trying to beat out balls in the holes, stretching singles into doubles, going from first to third if he has to exert himself. You have to know if you're going to make it. There's no guesswork."
Like Beltre, Cruz will suffer the same fate if he reinjures the hamstring.
"He's through for the year," Washington said. "Spring Training ... no maybes, for sure."