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10/26/09 1:08 PM ET

Cruz given new role with Astros

Long-time player, coach will be part of club's operations

HOUSTON -- Jose Cruz, the Astros' long-time left fielder and former first-base coach, has been named as a special assistant to the general manager/community outreach executive, Houston general manager Ed Wade announced on Monday.

In his new role, Cruz will be part of the Astros' Major League Spring Training staff, visiting Minor League affiliates and providing input on the Astros' Latin American operations. During regular-season home games, Cruz will be with Wade and other members of the baseball operations staff in the general manager's box.

"Cheo will be terrific in his new role," Wade said. "He's an Astros icon and he will be able to have a great impact both inside and outside the organization. Cheo will have a voice in our baseball operations and will also be a face of the franchise out in the community."

Cruz was informed shortly after the end of the regular season he wasn't going to return as first-base coach, a position he held for the previous 13 seasons.

"I'm happy that everything is set," Cruz said. "I'm an Astro all the way, so I'm very happy. It's a new role for me and I'm looking forward to it. It should be exciting."

Cruz, 62, will work closely with Rosi Hernandez, the Astros' vice president for market development. He will also assist in the Astros In Action Foundation, as well as the community affairs department.

"We're looking forward to working with Cheo as we continue to grow the Astros' fan base in Houston and the surrounding markets," Hernandez said. "Having such an Astros icon will help us greatly in our multicultural efforts in the Hispanic market as well as at outreach events."

Cruz has been a member of the Astros organization as both a player and coach for 26 seasons, 13 as a player (1975-87) and 13 as a coach (1997-2009). When the two-time All-Star retired as a player, he was the franchise leader in games played with 1,870 and remains in the top 10 in several categories. His No. 25 was retired in 1992.

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