Robinson Cano is a good enough baseball player that the Seattle Mariners decided to pay the star second baseman $240 million over 10 years in December. Despite a lifetime .309/.355/.504 line over nine seasons, some folks are still hung up on Cano’s indifference running out grounders.
Here’s Yankees’ hitting coach Kevin Long moaning to the New York Daily News about Cano’s lack of hustle:
“If somebody told me I was a dog,’’ Long said here Sunday, “I’d have to fix that. When you choose not to, you leave yourself open to taking heat, and that’s your fault. For whatever reason, Robbie chose not to.’’
Long says he considered Cano like a “son” and praised his work ethic in the batting cage, but that lack of running out grounders remains another one of baseball’s cardinal sins some people in the game can’t overlook:
“We all talked to him,’’ Long said. “I’m pretty sure Jeter talked to him a number of times. Even if you run at 80%, no one’s going to say anything. But when you jog down the line, even if it doesn’t come into play 98% of the time, it creates a perception.
“It’s too bad because Robbie cared a lot. By his last year here he was becoming a leader in the clubhouse. He went out of his way to talk to some of the younger guys, and he helped them.
“But he just wouldn’t make that choice to run hard all the time. The reasons aren’t going to make sense. He might say his legs didn’t feel good, or he was playing every day and needed to save his energy. To me there was no acceptable answer.’’
Why Long decided to backhandedly rip Cano once he left the team is open to interpretation. If you read my countless Mike Francesa posts, you’ll realize I listen to a lot of WFAN radio. Callers often dialed up the station to kvetch about Cano’s running on grounders, so Long isn’t breaking any new ground here.
Again, why fans get hung up on little stuff like this boggles the mind. This isn’t Little League, is it?
Just a hunch: 99.9 percent of baseball fans would prefer to have Cano jogging up the first base line on a routine grounder to second compared to somebody like Nick Punto sliding head-first into first base. I’ll take the .500 slugging percentage from a second baseman over some “grit,” “intangibles” and running out every grounder over 162 games, but maybe that’s just me.
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