Robinson Cano returns to Yankee Stadium, happy with decision to leave
On his way to signing a 10-year, $240 million deal with Seattle, Robinson Cano said he felt disrespected by what the Yankees offered.
Cano, however, did not want to get into those comments during a press conference Tuesday as he made his return to Yankee Stadium.
“I know you tried that one,” Cano in response to the final question. “I don’t want to disrespect you but I said earlier I don’t want to talk about the past. I already talked about that. I said what I had to say.”
Without Cano in the fold, the Yankees allotted their money elsewhere. They spent half a billion on Jacoby Ellsbury, Masahiro Tanaka, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann.
“One thing I understand is that this is a business,” Cano said. “I can’t control the Yankees. I can control myself and they made that decision and we’re both happy because I’m happy with where I’m at right now. I’m happy to be a Mariner and good luck to them.”
Disrespect or not, Cano seemed like a player many thought would never leave the Yankees. But many felt the same way about Albert Pujols, who won two championships with St. Louis before taking a 10-year, $252 contract with the Angels after the 2011 season.
“I knew he would pretty sought after and there would be clubs that would make some long term deals,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I kind of mentioned I always thought Albert Pujols would be a Cardinal and it didn’t happen. So there are those certain guys that you envision that their whole career they’re going to play in a certain spot and most of the time that doesn’t happen and that’s part of the game.”
As for the reaction, Girardi seemed to think fans would give him a positive reaction though the team was not planning a video tribute. Then again some of the fans derided the way he didn’t run hard on ground balls or often looked casual on defense. The reception was mixed in his first at-bat, but the boos mostly drowned out the cheers.
“I think he’s going to hear a lot of cheers,” Girardi said. “Whenever you’re a player that was a great player somewhere and you come back to the [place] you left, I’ve always felt that the people that are cheering are showing you respect and the people that are booing you are really showing you respect for you because they didn’t want you to leave. So that’s the way I always felt it is. I think the people really appreciated Robby and they wanted him to stay. They’re not happy that he left but I still think they like the guy and appreciate what he did.”
Cano already has heard some boos which turned into cheers. On Monday, he spent time with NBC’s “Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and filmed a bit where he hid behind a cardboard cutout. Fans booed the cutout but when Cano emerged, he was greeted warmly.
“That was a lot of fun,” Cano said. “I had fun with it. Those are things that I had a great experience. I know I’m not a Yankee anymore but I have to understand the fans. They’re not going to cheer for you here, they’re going to boo you because you’re on the opposite team.”
Like he did on the “Tonight Show,” Cano used the forum of a press conference to thank Yankee fans, who first saw him in the majors on May 3, 2005.
“I want to take this time to say thanks for all the years and all the patience,” he said. “They were so kind to me.”
Cano entered Tuesday night hitting .301 (28-for-93) with one home run and 11 RBIs. Like he did in New York, Cano has not missed a game and is hitting .405 in Seattle’s 10 wins. Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon did not think his second baseman would have problems handling whatever reception took place in the Bronx.
“Robby’s a nine-year veteran and he grew up in New York,” McClendon said. “He knows how to handle it, need I say more. I’m sure he knows how to handle New York.”
Pineda injures side
The Yankees are halfway into Michael Pineda’s 10-game suspension for being caught with pine tar on his neck last Wednesday against the Red Sox.
But based on the news they revealed Tuesday, pine tar is not the biggest concern. The Yankees announced Pineda injured his right lat, a muscle near the ribcage.
Pineda was pitching in a simulated game Monday in Tampa and removed himself after the first inning. The Yankees are awaiting the results of an MRI from Tampa but said they didn’t anticipate Pineda making his scheduled start Monday in Anaheim.
“I would think that his start Monday is probably in jeopard, but we’ll wait for the resultsy,” Girardi said. “He’s having the MRI down in Tampa. He threw the first inning and felt a little stiffness, tightness, and he pulled himself.”
If there was a positive development, it was that it was not Pineda’s shoulder, which sidelined him for two seasons.
Ellsbury injures hand
Jacoby Ellsbury missed Tuesday night’s game with a sore left hand. Though he has a lengthy injury history with the Red Sox, the Yankees did not sound too concerned as Ellsbury sat out for the first time this season.
“He’s been playing through it,” Girardi said. “We sent him to take a test and the test came back good, which is good news.”
The sore hand is Ellsbury’s top hand on swings and tests revealed no damage and based on the weather calling for rain all day Wednesday, the center fielder might get three days off.
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.