PEORIA, Ariz. -- When the Mariners improved by 16 wins last season but still fell one shy of an American League playoff spot, the obvious missing link was a big bat in the middle of the lineup behind Robinson Cano. So when you're looking to a key player for Seattle's success in 2015, it's hard to overlook the imposing presence of newcomer Nelson Cruz.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Dominican brings a power bat to a Mariners lineup looking for that threatening thump. The club hasn't had a 30-home-run player since Russell Branyan hit 31 in 2009. Cruz smashed 40 homers last season for the Orioles, as he earned his third AL All-Star bid and helped his team to the postseason for the fourth time in the past five seasons.