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.