Nelson Cruz is one of the most feared sluggers in all of baseball. The Seattle Mariners star wasted little time reminding fans of that on Opening Day.

Cruz stepped into the batter's box on Thursday evening with a very specific goal in mind: to launch one into the seats. It's a task he accomplished over 4300 times before in his professional career. With the Mariners facing an elite ace on the other side of the diamond, it was the perfect time for the slugger to strike.

Cruz strikes

At first, the Mariners predictably struggled to gain a ton of traction against Cleveland Indians ace Corey Kluber.

He started the evening by striking out Dee Gordon, then forced Jean Segura into a fairly weak groundout to the catcher. Robinson Cano managed to lace a single, however, which brought Cruz to the plate in the bottom of the first inning.

Sure enough, he delivered.

The slugger appeared confident at the plate, swinging hard at the very first pitch he saw. He smacked the 88 MPH pitch deep over the center field fence, driving in the first two runs of the season for the Mariners. According to the advanced trackers, the ball went 412 feet deep and came off his bat with an exit velocity of 111 MPH.

For what it's worth, Cruz also improved on an MLB-best mark he's held in the home run category since 2009.

Pivotal season ahead?

Cruz may be the most prolific slugger in the MLB since 2009.

At some point, however, his powers are going to start to abandon him. While power tends to leave hitters slower than speed, Cruz is 37 years young now. If the slugger hasn't hit the zenith of his career yet, he's certainly nearing it.

Earlier this week, the Seattle Times detailed how Cruz has managed to stay in shape ahead of this season.

It involved intense power workouts, regimented sleep schedules, and specific diet plans. It very much sounded like the plan of a man who wants to stick around a while. But at some point, that can prove exhausting for a veteran player whose proven nearly everything he's needed to during his career.

Further complicating matters, this is a contract year for Cruz, as his four-year, $57 million deal dims to a close. That means he's playing for his next contract, whether it comes from the Mariners or elsewhere.

For now, he'll keep mashing balls in Seattle as the team attempts to end the longest playoff drought in major American professional sports. Homering off one of the game's greatest aces is a good start.