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Mariano Rivera in new book questions Robinson Cano’s desire, would pick Dustin Pedroia

Mariano RiveraMariano Rivera in his new autobiography “The Closer,” raises some eyebrows when sharing his thoughts on former teammate Robinson Cano.

Rivera, who pitched 19 seasons and is known as the best closer in baseball history, was never considered a trash talker, so we’re not really taking his comments as anything other than an honest assessment. The New York Daily News says that in his book, Mo expressed love for Cano but questioned the second baseman’s desire to be great.

“This guy has so much talent I don’t know where to start… There is no doubt that he is a Hall-of-Fame caliber (player). It’s just a question of whether he finds the drive you need to get there. I don’t think Robby burns to be the best… You don’t see that red-hot passion in him that you see in most elite players.”

What makes that significant? Before the season, Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long took some heat for saying that Cano didn’t hustle enough. This sort of sits in a similar theme.

In contrast to describing Cano’s desire, Rivera apparently showed a great fondness for rival second baseman Dustin Pedroia.

As for his favorite second baseman, Rivera says Red Sox Dustin Pedroia is “at the top of the list” of players he admires, adding: “Nobody plays harder, gives more, wants to win more. He comes at you hard for twenty-seven outs. It’s a special thing to see.”

He later writes, “If I have to win one game, I’d have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman.”

It’s probably hard for Yankees fans to hear one of their franchise legends be so complimentary of a rival player, but deep down, it’s hard to disagree with him about Pedroia. Everyone knows what a great player Pedroia is and how hard he goes. It’s not exactly news for Rivera to say it, it’s just surprising to hear that from a Yankee.

Also in the book, Rivera said he felt like Derek Jeter returned last year from his ankle injury earlier than he should have and that Jeter never looked quite right during spring training. He says a part of the reason for this is because Jeter is so driven and motivated that it blinded him in his comeback case.

Robinson Cano greeted with boos in return to Yankee Stadium (Video)

According to Bob Dutton of The Tacoma News Tribune, the temperature at Yankee Stadium for Tuesday’s game was 46 degrees, the coldest for Seattle Mariners game there since 1992.

robinson-cano-traitorFor the Mariners’ $240 million man, Robinson Cano, it may have felt even colder.

Making his much anticipated return to Yankee Stadium for the first time since departing for the great northwest, Cano was not surprisingly greeted with a chorus of boos and even a “traitor” sign.

There was a section of fans in right field who chanted the All-Star second baseman “sold out”, which coming from fans of a team that routinely outbids everyone else for a player’s services is mind boggling.

Since this series is the only trip to Yankee Stadium by the Mariners during the regular season, fans of the pinstripes will have just two more opportunities to let Robinson Cano have it. Rest assured that will happen.

Yankee fans boo Robinson Cano cardboard cutout in hilarious Jimmy Fallon bit (Video)

Robinson Cano is returning to Yankee Stadium on Tuesday night to take on his former team for the first time as a member of the Seattle Mariners. New York Yankees fans are expected to boo him for leaving the Bronx for financial reasons, so Jimmy Fallon gave them a chance to air out their frustrations a little early on Monday.

In one of his best bits to date, Fallon sent out a large cardboard box with Cano’s picture on the front and had a reporter tell people to give the five-time All-Star a piece of their mind. Little did the booing fans know, Cano was inside the box. Their reactions when he popped out were priceless.

The guy at the 2:45 mark was by far my favorite.

Jimmy-Fallon-Robinson-Cano-bit

“I, I, I, I, I, I won’t b — I won’t boo you — I won’t actually boo you. I’ll, I’ll be rooting for you to … play well but not win.”

Yankee fans have already been holding signs about Cano chasing the money when the Mariners aren’t even in town, so you know he’s going to hear it on Tuesday. That’s the mob mentality for you. It would be interesting to see if fans would react the same if Fallon did the same bit with Alex Rodriguez. Something tells me there are a few fans who would boo him right to his face.

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

Yankees-fan-Robinson-Cano-all-about-money

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.