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Cruz to return to Astros in new role

Cruz to return to Astros in new role

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HOUSTON -- After meeting for about an hour with president of baseball operations and long-time friend Tal Smith at Minute Maid Park on Tuesday, Astros icon Jose Cruz said he has agreed to return to the organization next year in a new role.

The final details about his duties and assignments are yet to be worked out, but Cruz will remain in the organization.

"I'm going to be with the Astros," Cruz said. "I'm going to be working in community relations and public relations. Tal and I have a good relationship, and we talked for about an hour and he's going to get back to me."

Cruz, 62, is one of the most popular players in franchise history. He ranks near the top of the club's offensive charts in several categories and had his No. 25 retired in 1992. He spent the previous 13 seasons as the club's first base coach.

Last week, the Astros offered Cruz a chance to remain in uniform during batting practice and Spring Training but not travel with the team. He also was offered a chance to work as a community outreach executive in a role similar to the ones Larry Dierker and Jimmy Wynn occupy.

The new role for Cruz was one of a handful of coaching changes the Astros announced last week. The only coaches who will return to the field staff are hitting coach Sean Berry and interim manager Dave Clark, who served as third base coach before taking over the team with 13 games remaining in the season. Clark has been guaranteed a spot on the staff if he doesn't get the managerial job.

Pitching coach Dewey Robinson has left for a position with Tampa Bay, bench coach Ed Romero will take over as manager at rookie league Greeneville and bullpen coach Mark Bailey will become the hitting coach at Double-A Corpus Christi.

The Astros will wait until they hire a new manager to fill the remaining spots on the coaching staff.

Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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