SS Oneil Cruz is seeking the Pittsburgh Pirates’ permission to play in the Dominican Winter League, per MLB insider and reporter Mike Rodriguez.
Me informan que Oneil Cruz se encuentra ya al de su lesión al principio de temporada de MLB y que le informó a los Piratas ☠️ que quiere jugar invernal con los Tigres del Licey. De recibir el permiso Cruz entraría a la liga paralela para ponerse en forma y posteriormente… pic.twitter.com/NTFqE6VrZ6— Mike Rodriguez (@mikedeportes) November 5, 2023
Translated directly the post reads as follows —
“I’ve been informed that Oneil Cruz is now 100% recovered from his injury at the start of the MLB season, and that he informed the Pirates that he would like to play winter ball with the Tigres del Licey. After receiving permission, he would play in the parallel league in order to get in shape and subsequently enter games.”
Cruz fractured his ankle in a play at home plate against the Chicago White Sox on April 9, the injury required surgery to stabilize the fractured fibula as well as to repair the injured syndesmosis (a fibrous joint connecting two parallel bones, in this case the fibula and tibia).
Initially the team had set a very aggressive timetable for his return to game action of mid-August, however he was slow to begin the running program part of his rehab and by September 12, they had officially ruled him out for the season.
It has been somewhat unclear what the plan was for Cruz this offseason, getting him into game or game-like action should be a priority after he missed almost all of the 2023 season. However, where that should take place has been a question that hasn’t really had an answer.
It’s not surprising that Cruz would request to go play in LIDOM, seeing as how he’s played in four of the last six LIDOM seasons. It’s also somewhat reasonable to expect the Pirates to grant Cruz’s request.
Yes, he would be away from team facilities, and they won’t be able to keep a photon microscope on him at all times like they would with simulated action in Bradenton or elsewhere. But simulated action isn’t the same thing as real game action, and the Dominican Winter League is far from the wild west.
There’s a fair bit of communication that goes into it, and there are often strict limits on playing time that teams set.
Per the report, if permission is granted Cruz will head to the Parallel League, which is essentially the Dominican Minor Leagues, to get acclimated and game ready before joining Tigres Del Licey, who he appeared in 12 games for last year.