By Mike Max

MINNEAPOLIS  (WCCO) — The Twins surge has many reasons, but you can’t get past a 39-year-old who understands it better than most. Nelson Cruz is a leader– a leader who can flat out hit.

He came to the Twins carrying a big stick, and he’s delivered. It’s a veteran approach to a difficult sport.

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“I think it’s a long season. You’re expecting to have it as smooth as you can, but unfortunately that’s not the way it works,” Cruz said. “We all have ups and downs. Your body feels good one day and the next day it’s down, so you have to play with that and through that.”

Cruz is the designated hitter who is older than the manager– someone who understands him well.

“I think some of the things that he does in the box with the bat in his hands– he’s a little different than everyone else,” said manager Rocco Baldelli. “I think he has a very unique skill set and it’s why he’s one of the best hitters in the game.”

Cruz looks like a leader– because he is.

“I think you stay level in the ups and downs,” Cruz said “Make sure you prepare for every game and show the way. That’s the most important thing.”

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He’s what you call a professional hitter. That means he understands what pitchers are trying to do to him and is prepared in the batters box.

“Well, just have a plan, you know? Doesn’t matter what the situation is in the game,” Cruz said. “If you go out there with a plan, sometimes it’s going to work. Other times, it’s not going to work.”

Because this game is about playing the odds. This game is about failure and responding to it.

“Stay positive,” he said. “We know it’s a long season, but stay in the process. It’s a journey and you have to stay focused and take control. Just play the game.”

And this all-star veteran understands there is a time for baseball and a time to get away from baseball.

“Just try to refresh your mind, your body,” Cruz said. “Rest as much as you can. Just keep your mind out of baseball.”

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Mike Max