Oneil Cruz Fractures Ankle In Home Plate Collision
The Pittsburgh Pirates’ 2023 season took a big hit Sunday when shortstop Oneil Cruz collided with a White Sox catcher, fracturing his ankle. He is out indefinitely.
The injury to the 24-year-old Cruz is a hard one to watch. He came home on a chopper to the third baseman. He decided to slide feet first, colliding with the legs of White Sox’ catcher Seby Zavala. Zavala landed and Cruz immediately started riving in pain.
Losing Cruz is devastating for a 6-3 Pirates team. Cruz was a consensus top-25 prospect in the sport entering his rookie year of 2022. He lived up to a lot of those expectations in year one, finishing sixth in the NL Rookie of The Year Voting. In addition, it seemed Cruz was ready to make the jump in the first nine games of year two, and was posed to start every day at shortstop for Pittsburgh.
Immediately after the injury, Zavala screamed in Cruz’s direction. Subsequently, the opposing benches cleared, and the teams scuffled a bit, but no one seemed to be interested in fisticuffs. Pirates first baseman and designated hitter Carlos Santana was ready to fight every single Chicago player, but he was restrained by teammates and no punches were thrown. Santana was taking exception to something that Zavala said.
In the clip, it looks like Zavala immediately pops up and says something to Cruz, before realizing that he was injured. It looked like Zavala said, “B***h, the f**k is that?”
The more I watch this play over and over, you can clearly tell that’s what Zavala said to Cruz after the collision. Listen immediately after Cruz slides into home. He even looks right in Cruz’s direction. Santana, hearing this, was not happy and immediately approached Zavala.
Santana Vs. Zavala
“Cruz wasn’t trying to hit Zavala on purpose,” Santana said to MLB.com. “It was a quick play. Everything was fast. I don’t like how (Zavala) screamed at (Cruz) when he got hurt. For me, I had to support my teammate.”
As I imagined, Santana was not happy with Zavala’s loud comments. Maybe in an old-school baseball game, this would have resulted in an all-out brawl. However, in this new age of baseball, pushing everyone around is the equivalent of a gruesome battle.
“I was just talking to Santana about it,” Zavala said after the Pirates’ 1-0 win. “He didn’t like what I said, he said something I didn’t like. That’s what happened. I think in a couple of days everybody will forget about it.”
He better hope so. People will find out what he said. It looked pretty rough at the time, and Zavala was angry that he could have been injured. It was a short-sighted comment by Zavala, one I’m sure he wants to erase.
Rodolfo Castro slid from second to shortstop after the injury. I’d expect Castro to assume the majority of the playing time at the position, alongside second baseman Ji Hwan Bae. Pittsburgh is losing one of their young leaders and leadoff hitter without Cruz.
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