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CJ Wilson seemed upset about having to walk Robinson Cano

CJ-Wilson-AngelsLos Angeles Angels pitcher CJ Wilson was asked to do something a bit unusual during his team’s 8-3 loss against the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night — walk a left-handed hitter. Wilson, a lefthander, was instructed to walk Robinson Cano with runners on second and third and two outs in the third inning.

Mike Scioscia had Wilson walk Cano to get to first baseman Justin Smoak, who is a switch-hitter. Cano entered last night’s game 11 for 30 (.367) against Wilson in his career. Smoak is just 6 for 29 (.207) against Wilson and has hit .233 in his career from the right side. Of course, numbers don’t always tell the full story.

Smoak ripped a double to left-center field and gave Seattle a 4-0 lead. The Mariners never looked back. A reporter asked Wilson after the game if he found it strange that he was told to walk a lefthanded hitter to get to a switch-hitter.

“Yes,” he said, via Mike DiGiovanna of the LA Times. “No more questions on that one.”

Wilson later admitted that he threw a lousy pitch to Smoak, but it was obvious he was upset with the decision to walk Cano. Scioscia defended the decision by saying he was trying to take the bat away from Cano as much as possible.

“Right now, if you look at their lineup, Cano is a guy you want to try to minimize as much as you can,” the Angels manager said. “Smoak, give him credit, he got some big hits [Monday] night, some big hits [Tuesday] night, and if that continues, Cano will get some pitches to hit. But right now, you want to make Smoak swing the bat instead of Cano.”

I agree. The numbers favored the decision. Despite it being a lefty-lefty matchup, Cano obviously has not had much trouble hitting Wilson in his career. Give me a choice and I’ll pitch to Smoak over Cano 10 times out of 10.

Yankees fan holds Robinson Cano ‘it’s all about the money’ sign

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Robinson Cano is not scheduled to make his return to Yankee Stadium as a visiting player until April 29, but that didn’t stop one angry New York Yankees fan from heckling him during the Seattle Mariners’ game against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night. The way the fan went about it will amaze you.

Believe it or not, the middle-aged Yankee supporter actually had the balls to hold a sign taunting Cano for signing with the highest bidder.

“CANO, IT’S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY!” the sign read.

Yup, a Yankees fan. You know, the team that has one of the highest payrolls in baseball year in and year out. The team that throws $25 million a year at guys like CC Sabathia to assure that they cannot remain with the organizations that brought them into the big leagues. The team that is known as the Evil Empire largely because of it’s endless pile of wealth.

Come on, guy — you can do better than that.

Photo: Twitter/Jimmy Traina

Robinson Cano: Mariners need a right-handed bat

Robinson-Cano-MarinersWhen the Seattle Mariners signed Robinson Cano to a $240 million contract, it seemed safe to assume they were not done adding pieces. You don’t spend that kind of coin without a larger plan in mind. Seattle could still make some significant moves before the start of the regular season, but they really haven’t done much since signing Cano. And even he knows it.

Now that Cano is the face of the Mariners’ franchise, he has no problem playing general manager.

“I’m not going to lie. We need an extra bat, especially a right-handed bat,” Cano told Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. “We have many left-handed hitters. We need at least one more righty. You don’t want to face a lefty pitcher with a lineup of seven left-handed hitters.”

The Mariners had the worst OPS in baseball last year (.657) against left-handed pitching. They have added Cano and Logan Morrison to the middle of their lineup this year — both left-handed hitters. Cano also mentioned how he would like to see the team bring back switch-hitting Kendrys Morales to give the lineup some balance.

“He’s a switch hitter who’s got power,” he said.

Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik agreed with Cano, admitting that Seattle’s current roster is “a little lefthanded.” But Cano didn’t stop there. He also pounced on the opportunity to praise free agent starting pitcher Ervin Santana.

“He’s great,” Cano said. “The guy’s always pitching; he never gets hurt.”

The Mariners spent a lot of money on Cano, and handing out a contract that massive will come back to haunt them if they can’t assemble a well-rounded team. This isn’t the NBA. One player isn’t going to carry an entire team. Zduriencik and company have plenty of work to do. Everyone, including Cano, realizes that.

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.

Robinson Cano sat with Jay-Z and Beyonce at the Grammys

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Remember when people were wondering why Robinson Cano would leave Scott Boras to sign with Jay-Z and his up-and-coming sports agency. It all made perfect sense when Cano signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners. And on Sunday night, we were reminded of some of the perks that go along with being represented by Shawn Carter.

Cano sat with Jay-Z and Beyonce at the Grammy Awards. He uploaded the photo on Instagram and captioned it “La familia.” Boras probably could have gotten Seattle to pay the same amount for Cano, but I don’t think it would look as cool to sit next to Boras as it does accompany Jay-Z and Beyonce.

Anyone who believes clients won’t take stuff like this into consideration when picking Jay-Z as an agent is delusional.

Robinson Cano: The Yankees gave me no respect

Robinson-Cano-MarinersRobinson Cano was officially introduced as a member of the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, and he did not exactly take the high road when discussing his former team. Cano told reporters that the Mariners “showed me love” and made it clear that they wanted him from day one. As for the New York Yankees, the 31-year-old said he felt disrespected.

“Honestly, I would say no,” Cano said when asked if he felt the Yankees wanted him back, via David Lennon of Newsday. “I didn’t feel respect. I didn’t get any respect from them and I didn’t see any effort.”

Cano is probably right. The second baseman was one of the best hitters in the American League for the last several seasons, but the Yankees wanted him back at a price that was reasonable for them. The last thing they need is another massive contract like the one Alex Rodriguez is currently still working under, which is why New York offered Cano seven years and $175 million — a higher average annual salary than he got from Seattle.

Cano shouldn’t take it personally. Sure, the Yankees were quick to give Jacoby Ellsbury a seven-year, $153 million deal. But again, it’s more about the length of the deal. New York is done paying players $25 million when they are 40 — at least for now. That’s why we previously wrote that the Yankees proved they learned a lesson by letting Cano walk. Given the current state of the Bronx Bombers, Cano simply hit free agency at a time that gave him virtually no chance to remain in pinstripes.