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Pirates manager Derek Shelton confirmed Monday that Cruz (ankle) has resumed participating in instructional games in the Dominican Republic this offseason, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

Cruz hasn't yet taken part in any official Dominican Winter League games and may not before the 50-game regular season ends in late December, but the fact that he's taking live at-bats again as well as playing the field suggests that he's made a full recovery from the fractured left ankle he suffered April 9. Assuming the 25-year-old avoids any setbacks in his offseason program while he continues to train in the Dominican Republic, he should report to spring training with no restrictions. Though he essentially lost a season of development at the big-league level while recovering from ankle surgery, Cruz has youth in his favor as he looks to bounce back from the major injury. His impressive bat speed and sprint speed has been matched by few players during his time in the majors and should translate to some solid power and stolen-base numbers in 2024 even while he shakes off some rust, but Cruz's lengthy absence didn't do anything to quell the concerns about his plate discipline that existed even before he fractured his ankle.

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