Cruz on 40th birthday: Age-induced decline 'doesn't have to be the case'
Brace Hemmelgarn / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz turns 40 years old on Wednesday, but the veteran slugger believes there's plenty left in his tank.

"It's normal, I know, for people to say you're going to decline when you get to 40, to expect that," Cruz told Phil Miller of the Star Tribune upon arriving at Twins camp. "But that doesn't have to be the case, not yet."

Cruz is entering the final year of his contract with the Twins after the club picked up his 2020 team option worth $12 million this past winter. The six-time All-Star is coming off one of his most productive seasons, hitting .311/.392/.639 with 41 homers over 120 games to claim his third Silver Slugger while earning down-ballot MVP votes.

Before the coronavirus pandemic delayed the MLB season, Cruz didn't appear to be slowing down this past spring, either.

"If you recall, every at-bat was a good at-bat. I felt like I was in control of everything out there," Cruz said after posting a 1.371 OPS with three homers and two doubles over 24 plate appearances. "Unfortunately the virus came. I know (the regular season) might not be the same, but why not? I do everything possible to get ready - resting right, sleeping good, watching my diet, working out twice a day. It has an effect, and experience just makes you better, too. I do all the things you’re supposed to do to stay sharp."

Over the past decade, no hitter has clubbed more homers than Cruz, who has smacked 346 dingers since the beginning of the 2010 campaign while playing for the Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners, and Twins.

Cruz on 40th birthday: Age-induced decline 'doesn't have to be the case'
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