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Cruz in the third spot, but not permanently

Cruz in the third spot, but not permanently


ST. LOUIS -- Nelson Cruz was back in the No. 3 spot in the lineup on Saturday night, but Rangers manager Ron Washington is not ready to declare it his permanent spot. Washington suggested there is a possibility Lance Berkman could end up back in the No. 3 spot when he's healthy, hot and back in the lineup.

Cruz is hitting there now because the Rangers are playing in a National League city and there is no designated hitter being used. Berkman is available as a pinch-hitter, but he won't be in the lineup after receiving a cortisone shot in his surgically repaired right knee on Thursday. Berkman will be back in the lineup on Tuesday when the Rangers open a three-game series against the Yankees in New York. He may not return to the No. 3 spot immediately, but Washington still likes him there because he draws walks and is a switch-hitter.

Cruz has had some success in the No. 3 spot, going 7-for-18 with seven RBIs in the past five games. He usually hits fifth or sixth in the lineup.

"It just depends on what's best," Washington said. "Nelson's doing a good job and I know he can handle it. It just depends on what's best."

Cruz was 2-for-5 with three RBIs in the Rangers' 6-4 victory over the Cardinals on Friday night. His two-run single broke a 4-4 tie in the ninth inning and allowed the Rangers to win in their first appearance at Busch Stadium since the 2011 World Series.

"It was a little bit special, but it's just a game," Cruz said, before hitting a go-ahead two-run homer in Saturday's 4-2 victory. "Getting an RBI in any ballpark is special because we want to win. We're on a pretty good run right now and playing well."

As far as batting third, Cruz is not trying to make a big deal out of it.

"I guess it means better situations and getting more runners on base in front of me," Cruz said. "That's the only difference I see. I think you focus differently when you've got men on base."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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