Pirates SS Oneil Cruz open his major problem with the team stating “Losing my confidence”

Pirates SS Oneil Cruz is open about his issues with strikeouts, saying, “I’m losing my confidence.”

Oneil Cruz has more than twice as many strikeouts as hits, and he leads the major leagues in this category as well. The shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, who set a record high exit velocity on Statcast, looks as perplexed as anybody about his at-bat troubles.

Cruz could think of just one explanation for the fighting after going 10 games in a row with at least one strikeout and 9 of the previous 13 without a hit in Sunday’s 6-1 defeat to the Boston Red Sox.
Cruz told Pirates coach Stephen Morales, who was serving as his interpreter, “It’s all about confidence.” “I’ve been feeling a little less confident lately, but hopefully, game by game, I’ll gain it back.”

The 6-foot-7, 230-pound Cruz made a startling declaration when he said he thought his speed and power would allow him to break into the elite 40-40 club for home runs and stolen bases.

The simple explanation is that Cruz, who missed much of the previous season due to a fractured left ankle that necessitated surgery as well as prolonged recovery and rehabilitation, hasn’t been able to recapture his rhythm or timing. Before suffering an injury during a clumsy slide into home plate against the Chicago White Sox at PNC Park, he only appeared in nine games.

Cruz stated, “We’re working hard every day and battling through some stuff, and we’re here to do that everyday to get better. Getting confidence back is a huge part, especially after being out for a year.” “Everything will be alright.”

Cruz was slashing.342/.375/.500 through the first nine games of this season, but he also had 14 strikeouts and only two walks. For the second straight year, he went yard on Opening Day. In the eighth inning of a 12-inning victory over Miami, he blasted the game-winning single home run. Possibly his greatest moment occurred on April 6, when he defeated the Baltimore Orioles with an RBI single in the 11th inning, earning his first career walk-off hit.

Since then, Cruz’s slash line has dropped to.209/.261/.326 and he is batting.104 (5 for 48) with 23 strikeouts against four walks. Throughout his 22 Pirates games, he has struck out many times. His lowest moment came on April 14 when he was hit with four strikeouts in a game against Philadelphia.

During the first five games, Cruz batted sixth or seventh in the order as the Pirates faced a consistent lineup of left-handed starts. After that, he switched to the leadoff position, where he produced two of his three home runs and a higher batting average (.229).

In an effort to relieve some of the burden, Pirates manager Derek Shelton moved Cruz to the eighth slot in the order over the last two games after he went 4 for 30 (.133) with 15 strikeouts and one walk during the seven-game road trip. Despite trying to give Cruz a day off on Tuesday before third baseman Ke’Bryan Hayes was forced to scratch due to lower back tightness, Shelton downplayed the idea that Cruz needs a day off.

Shelton explained, “That’s why we moved him down in the order, out of the one spot.” He plays a major role in our offensive. We need to work things out. He’s not going to figure things out by taking a few days off at this point. He must be run out there.

Shelton was reiterating general manager Ben Cherington’s remarks from Sunday on his weekly radio show on 93.7 FM, which stated that sticking with Cruz in the starting lineup is the best approach for him to overcome his slump.

Cruz is on pace to record 272 strikeouts this season with an average of 1.68 per game. That would break the big league season record of 223 set in 2009 by Arizona’s Mark Reynolds. However, Cruz also set a record most strikeouts in 87 games during his rookie season in 2022, averaging 1.45 per game despite having a projected season total of 32 home runs and 101 RBIs. Cherington’s reasoning and possibly his patience are explained by those kinds of figures.

“Letting him play is the easiest solution. Simply continue playing, Cherington advised. The most important and straightforward thing is to simply keep playing. Of course, there is a lot of work being done behind the scenes to assist and train him.

Personally, I haven’t found anything about him this season that has surprised me all that much. We know he is capable of accomplishing more since he has accomplished some amazing things. Additionally, he has faced challenges on a few occasions. Considering what he’s coming off of, that seems rather predictable heading into the season. It’s a challenging game. For a young player, missing an entire season and then returning is difficult. Thus, you’re

Cruz credited his teammates for trying to cheer him up, pointing out Hayes and first baseman Rowdy Tellez in particular for their advice on how to handle the scuffling. Before a postgame interview, center fielder Michael A. Taylor stopped at Cruz’s locker to offer some support. Locker mate Connor Joe said Cruz is too talented to not turn it around soon.

“Yeah, we do believe in him. He’s gonna do really special things,” Joe said. “When you miss out on 600 at-bats, it’s gonna take you a little bit to get going. I don’t care who you are, you’re gonna go through some times in baseball and it’s gonna humble you. But, I can tell you in the clubhouse there’s no loss of confidence in Oneil. You know he’s going to put in the work behind the scenes and get back to the player he can be and the player he is.”

That’s what Cruz wants and is trying to rediscover while dealing with what he called “good times and rough times.”

Cruz remarked, “After being out for a year, it’s a constant battle for me just to get back to where I was and gain that confidence.” “It’s a daily struggle, but I’ll get by.”

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