Orioles-Rangers Preview

The Associated Press

Nelson Cruz knows his tenure with the Texas Rangers ended because of his own actions, turning down a hefty contract offer even after he was caught up in the Biogenesis scandal.

Now with the Baltimore Orioles and ranking among baseball's leaders in home runs and RBIs, Cruz insists he has no regrets as he prepares to return to Arlington for the first time Tuesday night.

It's unclear, though, if he'll be in the lineup for the series opener because of a bruised left hand.

Cruz rejected the Rangers' $14.1 million qualifying offer in November, a decision that came after he was suspended for the final 50 games of the 2013 season for using performance-enhancing drugs.

He wound up signing with Baltimore in the offseason for much less - one year at $8 million - but has flourished with his new team.

"If you could read the future, yeah, you would probably take the qualifying offer," Cruz told the team's official site, laughing. "But it's something that you risk and you trust your instincts. In this case, it wasn't what I expected. But I'm happy with my decision and happy with where I am now."

Cruz is hitting .314 with 20 homers and 52 RBIs, though his 12-game hitting streak ended Sunday when he had to leave the Orioles' 9-4 win over Houston after being hit with a pitch in the left hand.

He's hoping Monday's off day will give it enough time to heal.

"You just treat it like another game," Cruz said. "So (I'll) see how it feels and just go from there."

The Rangers (29-28) are relieved to be home after going 7-4 on their longest road trip of the season. They scored just two runs in each of the last three, though Leonys Martin's homer and Yu Darvish's eight solid innings led them past Washington 2-0 on Sunday.

"It feels like we have been on the road for a month, especially with all these day games," shortstop Elvis Andrus said. "It has been tough. I'm happy we're going home."

Former Oriole Joe Saunders may not be as excited to be heading back to Arlington, where he's 1-7 with an 8.58 ERA in eight regular-season outings over his career.

Saunders (0-1, 4.15 ERA) will be making his first start there since signing with the Rangers in the offseason. The left-hander struck out six over five innings of Texas' 1-0 win over Minnesota on Wednesday in his first start since April 4, when he suffered a stress fracture of his left ankle from a batted ball against Tampa Bay.

"My last start was OK," said Saunders, who went 3-3 with a 3.63 ERA in seven starts for Baltimore in 2012. "It could have been better. It was a good second first start of the year."

The Orioles (28-27) have won back-to-back games following a four-game skid, and they'll send Ubaldo Jimenez to the mound as he looks to build off a solid start.

After back-to-back outings of allowing five runs, Jimenez (2-6, 4.65) gave up one and struck out eight over six innings of the Orioles' 3-1 loss to Houston on Thursday. He's 2-2 with a 3.12 ERA in his last six starts after losing four of his first five.

"I was able to get a little bit deeper in the game and that's always good," Jimenez said. "Hopefully I get deeper than that in my next game."

The right-hander has been solid against Texas, going 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in six starts.

Former Ranger Chris Davis will be looking to get back on track. He's mired in a 2-for-28 slump with 15 strikeouts over his last seven.

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