Lloyd McClendon defends Robinson Cano against Yankees hitting coach

Robinson-Cano-MarinersSeattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon fired back at New York Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long in defense of Robinson Cano on Tuesday. Over the weekend, Long reiterated that he is still bothered by the fact that Cano had to be spoken to several times about not running hard down the first-base line. McClendon thinks Long should worry about his own team.

“Last time I checked, I didn’t know that Kevin Long was the spokesman for the New York Yankees,” McClendon told ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick. “That was a little surprising. I was a little pissed off, and I’m sure Joe [Girardi] feels the same way. He’s concerned with his team and what they’re doing, not what the Seattle Mariners players are doing.

“I’m a little surprised that Kevin Long is the spokesman for the New York Yankees. I wonder if he had any problems with Robbie when he wrote that book ["Cage Rat"] proclaiming himself as the guru of hitting.”

Long also had a lot of complimentary things to say about Cano during his interview with the NY Daily News, but the comments about his lack of hustle when running out ground balls were the big takeaway. McClendon said he isn’t worried about Cano’s hustle and that not running hard is often “blown out of proportion.”

“To me, the most important thing is the guy goes out there for 160 games a year, he hits .330, he drives in over 100 runs and he hits 25 to 30 home runs,” he said. “I just need Robinson to be Robinson. Like all the rest of my guys know, just don’t dog it. Am I expecting you to give me 110 percent down the baseline every night? No. I’m expecting you to give me a good effort.”

There’s obviously a lot of bitterness remaining between Cano and the Yankees. I think both sides should be giving 110% effort to move on without one another.

Robinson Cano’s lack of hustle still bothers Yankees hitting coach

Robinson Cano YankeesRobinson Cano will be missed by the New York Yankees now that he’s signed with the Seattle Mariners, but one thing the Yankees won’t miss is Cano’s consistent lack of hustle running out balls to first.

Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long says he was extremely close with Cano and that the team will really miss the All-Star infielder. He also hopes and thinks Cano will do well in Seattle, but the longtime Yankees coach says one thing still bothers him about Cano: the second baseman just never consistently ran hard down the first base line on balls he hit. Here’s what Long said Sunday via the New York Daily News.

“We all talked to him,’’ Long said of Cano’s tendency not to run hard to first . “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.’’

Long was very complimentary of Cano in his comments to the Daily News. He says Cano had a good work ethic and often reached out to him to work on his hitting. He also complimented Cano for overcoming other bad habits, such as laziness in the field or giving away at-bats. But as you can see, the hustle issue was one that was never fixed.

From my experience, one reason players don’t run hard to first on some balls is embarrassment and looks. Players are embarrassed and disappointed about hitting weak ground balls. Running hard after a disappointing at-bat looks silly, so the cool kids don’t want to do it. It’s just bad fundamentals and wrong priorities, and it certainly doesn’t endear a player to his teammates, coaches and fans.

Yankees fans will miss a lot about Cano, but this is one thing that won’t be missed.