SAN DIEGO -- All winter and spring Luis Cruz tried to ignore the skeptics who wondered if he was the career Minor Leaguer he had been or the late bloomer who won the Dodgers' starting third-base job over the second half of 2012.
Then Cruz started the season 0-for-17 and, he admits, one thing might have had something to do with the other.
"I wanted to prove too much that what I did last year was real and I overtried to do things," said Cruz, who broke out with a pair of hits Wednesday night. "My dad got me to relax and have fun. I'm not the first or last to go 0-for-17. Now I'm 2-for-5. I'm not counting the 17."
Cruz credits his father, a hitting coach in the Mexican League, for spotting his flaws physical and mental, and for providing just enough needling to keep his son loose.
"He told me that he couldn't make [the Major Leagues], so I see myself in you," Cruz said. "The other day he asked me if he should go to bat for me. Last night after the game he said he thought I'd go 0-for-400. Thank you, Dad. He always gives me a hard time, in a good way."
Cruz's father told his son he was "jumpy" at the plate and the son tried to explain why.
"You go to the plate and it's like you want to get two hits in one at-bat," he said. "You want it so bad. I wasn't nervous, just too excited. When I'm pulling balls, that's not me. I just wanted to get one hit to right field. I know that's me. I was almost as excited as my first hit."
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.