Nelson Cruz designated for assignment by Padres

SAN DIEGO — Nelson Cruz’s tenure with the Padres came to a ceremonial end Tuesday morning. It’s unclear whether his remarkable 19-year big league career will lead to the same conclusion.

That remains to be seen after the Padres designated Cruz for assignment on Tuesday amid a flurry of roster moves. The Padres placed right-hander Michael Wacha on 15-day IL due to shoulder inflammation, and they promoted utility man Matthew Batten to take Cruz’s place on the bench.

Cruz posted a .245/.283/.399 slash line in 49 games this season, serving as a DH and pinch-hitter, almost exclusively against left-handed pitching. Manager Bob Melvin cited the team’s need for more versatility as the reason behind the move.

“Obviously it’s tough,” Melvin said. “He is a big influence in the clubhouse. The respect he brings playing against him from afar, across the board, across the league, is fantastic. He comes across as advertised – leadership, all of the above.

“I think it is more about versatility now. We have a few guys like him and (Matt Carpenter) who are basically just DHs. We needed to be able to give some guys a few more days off, needed a runner off the bench, needed a little more versatility. So unfortunately we had to take this step today.”

In his 19 major league seasons, Cruz has accumulated 464 career homers, a .856 OPS and 42.3 BWAR. He is a seven-time All-Star, a four-time Silver Slugger, and the MVP of the 2011 ALCS with Texas.

Melvin noted his belief that Cruise would “catch on somewhere.” Cruz was not at the ballpark Tuesday, and it was not immediately clear whether he would pursue such an opportunity. His skill set remains at least somewhat useful—a right-handed bench bat with a tendency to bat left-handed and occasionally leave the ballpark. (He went deep five times in 143 at-bats this season.)

San Diego signed Cruz to a one-year deal during the offseason, with plans to pair him with Carpenter at DH. But the Padres weren’t getting enough production from that pair to justify two position-less roster spots, which led to the move on Tuesday.

For Wacha, the Padres are expected to use the All-Star break to give his shoulder extra time to heal. He had missed the start last month with the same issue. It’s possible he’ll return to the rotation in the first innings after the break, Melvin said.

The Padres also optioned righty Domingo Tapia and recalled lefty José Castillo and righty knuckleballer Matt Waldron.

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