01/29/2004 3:45 PM ET
Cruz chats with fans online
Tampa Bay signed free-agent outfielder Jose Cruz Jr. last month at the Winter Meetings. The Gold Glove winner participated in an online chat with fans and discussed how he feels about calling Tropicana Field home and joining the Devil Rays outfield.
|"I think we can be one of the best outfields in baseball," Jose Cruz said during an online chat. (Steve Nesius/AP)
Moderator: Thanks for joining today's chat. Jose has joined us. We're ready to begin.
djitty020: Mr. Cruz, I am a young aspiring baseball player. W hat helped you the most to make it to the Majors?
Jose Cruz Jr: The passion I have for the game. I worked really hard on my own to improve as a player. That and setting goals for myself.
wharfrat: Welcome to Tampa Bay, Jose. We're happy to have you on board. You've always hit well at the Trop. Since the Rays have only one true power hitter (Huff), do you plan on making any changes in your stroke to improve HR power for added offense to the team.
JC: No. I'm not going to try to do anything different. I just want to try to stay consistent. The power will be there if I stay consistent.
wharfrat: As a former All-American at Rice University, how exciting was it to see them win the National Championship? Would you like to see the Rays draft one of their Big 3 Guns -- Jeff Niemann, Wade Townsend, or Phil Humber?
JC: It was really exciting for me. I've seen the guys play for the last three years because my brother was on the team. I used to live in Houston and be very close. It would be great if we could get one of those guys. The Rice guys are starting to increase in numbers.
nichts: Hi Jose! You've got a two-year contract with the Rays. Are you hoping to settle in and stay a while?
JC: Yes I am. I don't like moving from team to team. Ideally, I'd like to do well enough to stay here for a lot longer.
nichts: Are you happy to be back in the American League?
JC: Either way. It's not an issue with me.
j_l: Will it help you at bat to be back with Lee Elia?
JC: I think it's good to be back with Lee, who has seen me do well in Seattle and Toronto. I didn't really have that in San Francisco. So, I think it will be beneficial.
j_l: How does hitting at the Trop compare to hitting at the SkyDome, where you had so much success?
JC: Tropicana Field is a little different. The Trop is little more constant. There was a lot of wind at SkyDome and that changes everything you do.
bambino49: Last year the Devil Rays had a decent outfield. Do you think you will be the addition they need to be one of the best outfields in the Majors?
JC: I think we can be one of the best outfields in baseball. And I think we are the fastest outfield in baseball. I can't think of any outfield that is faster.
mlb_com_member_2: Being that your father was a great ballplayer himself, what things did you take from his game that might have helped you to become a successful Major League player?
JC: He taught me to enjoy the game, enjoy every moment. Just to hustle every moment and give it your all.
tony_coughlin: Hey there Jose! Where do you think you will be batting in the Devil Rays lineup?
JC: It doesn't really matter. Whatever makes the team better. Ideally, second is good. But playing in the AL, where you bat is not as much of a factor.
nichts: How do you feel about being able to play so close to home?
JC: I love it, with a capital L-O-V-E.
kaz5129: Hey Jose, why did you choose to go to the Devil Rays?
JC: I thought I was going to come to Tampa Bay last year. Having a GM and manager that think so highly of you is very important. It makes you want to do better. Also, being close to home. There were a lot of factors. It just felt right.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.