Pittsburgh Pirates: Oneil Cruz Checks In For Winter Ball

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

Oneil Cruz has checked into camp for winter ball in the Dominican Republic, as both Cruz and the Pittsburgh Pirates look for him to get at bats this offseason

Winter ball in the Dominican Republic will feature multipl member of the Pittbsurgh Pirates this offseason. Earlier in the week, we discussed Gregory Polanco playing winter ball in an effort to make up for at bats he’s lost the past two seasons due to injuries. Joining Polanco in the DR this offseason will be on of the organization’s top prosepcts – Oneil Cruz.

Cruz playing winter ball is a great sign for a lot of reasons. First off, both Cruz and the Pittsburgh Pirates will want him getting as many at bats as possible this offseason. Not only will this help with Cruz’s development, it can also help to make up for at bats lost due to there being no minor league season in 2020.

Now, yes, Cruz was at the team’s alternate training site in Altoona during the 2020 season, but these at bats can only go so far. Simulated games and scrimmage can never duplicate real, live game reps. The same goes for Cruz getting work in the field at shortstop. Also, with the rumors swirling around the Pittsburgh Pirates potentially looking to have Cruz move positions down the road, he could get some work at positions such as left and right field this offseason.

Another reason it is great to see Cruz playing is after the tumultous offseason he has had. Following the car accident he was involved in that heartbreakingly left three individuals dead, Cruz’s baseball career was unclear. For a full breakdown of this timeline of events you can read more here.

All signs point toward this turly being an accident and Cruz having no wrong doing in the events. Due to this, Pittsburgh Pirates general manager has said he expects Cruz to be ready to go for spring training.

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Hopefully, Cruz, as well as Polanco, will find success in winter ball this offseason. If Cruz does, this can help make up for lost games/at bats in 2020 due to a lack of a minor league season, continue to develop as a player, and, maybe most importantly, put his accident behind him and get his mind locked back in on baseball.