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The Detroit Tigers have announced that José Cruz Jr. has joined the club’s coaching staff in the role of Major League coach. The 12-year Major League veteran outfielder will focus on hitting instruction.

“We identified Jose as someone who would be a great fit for A.J. and his coaching staff and to work with our players at the Major League level,” said Al Avila, Detroit Tigers Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations and General Manager. “Jose comes from a well-respected, three-generation baseball family, and over the years I’ve watched him as a player and know him to be a leader both on the field and in the clubhouse. His background and knowledge of the game will be an asset to our ballclub.”

“We’re excited to round out our Major League staff with the addition of José Cruz Jr.,” said A.J. Hinch, Detroit Tigers Manager. “He was widely respected as a player both on and off the field, and spending his entire life around the game has built a great ability to connect with both young and veteran players.”

Cruz Jr. was selected by Seattle with the No. 3 pick in the 1995 MLB Draft and batted .247/.337/.445 over his career, slugging 204 home runs, 252 doubles and 36 triples, while also stealing 113 bases in 1,388 contests. A native of Arroyo, Puerto Rico, he hit .353 with a .476 on-base percentage in five games during the 2006 World Baseball Classic, helping Team Puerto Rico reach the second round.

Among the 181 players that had over 1,000 at-bats during the span of his career (1997-2008), Cruz Jr. stood out as having advanced speed, plate discipline and fielding skills, ranking No. 32 in walk rate (12.1%), No. 33 in triples and No. 46 in stolen bases. Of the 24 players over that span who logged at least 11,000.0 innings in the outfield, he ranks No. 12 with a .986 fielding percentage after committing just 40 errors. During his 2003 campaign with San Francisco, Cruz Jr. committed just two errors in 360 total chances, which earned him a National League Gold Glove.

Cruz Jr.’s post with the Tigers marks his first on a Major League coaching staff, but has held a variety of other roles around the sport since retiring in 2008. In 2013 he joined the Major League Baseball Player Association’s player services department, and later was a television analyst for ESPN. Cruz Jr. comes from one of the largest baseball families in history, with eight relatives playing professionally – including his son, Trei, who was drafted by the Tigers in the third round of the 2020 MLB Draft.

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