Bronx, NY—Robinson Cano, one of the premier players in MLB, was the center of attention at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. For the first time he made his debut with the New York Yankees in 2005, Cano dressed in the visitor’s clubhouse and wore the uniform of the visiting club, the Seattle Mariners.
Several days earlier, Cano prophesied his feelings on the day of his return, “it’s going to be weird. It’s going to feel a lot different being on the other side.”
Cano was on the Yankee side since he signed as a non-drafted free agent at the age of 17 on January 5, 2001. Interestingly, Cano’s father, Jose, was also drafted and signed by the Yankees. After several minor league seasons, he made his big league debut on May 3, 2005.
The native of the baseball hotbed of San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic compiled outstanding statistics and received many honors during his nine seasons with the Yanks.
The five-time American League All-Star, the last four as the starting second sacker, was a winner of the Silver Slugger five times and the Gold Glove twice.
He has been especially effective in the last five years averaging 99 runs scored, 103 runs batted in, a batting average of .314, a slugging average of .530 and an on-base percentage of .369 per season. Cano was the winner of the 2012 Home Run Derby, and was named the MVP of the 2013 World Baseball Classic (WBC), leading his nation, the Dominican Republic to the championship with a batting average of .469.
Not surprisingly, his recent performances increased the interest by teams other than the Yankees to obtain the services of Cano for the future. To the shock of many and the disappointment and anger of Yankee rooters, Cano signed a 10 year contract worth $240 million with the Mariners on December 12, 2013.
In a pre-game press conference in Yankee Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, Cano refused to be trapped by questions in English or Spanish that attempted to get him to discuss his contract negotiations or to criticize the Yankees, “I just want to move on and not talk about the past. I’m just happy to be back and see those guts again that I played with.”
Prior to the game, the new Mariner expressed hope that the New York fans would remember his nine years and react well to him “Hopefully, I’ll be treated nice by the fans.” In spite of his high hopes, he did show understanding of the psyche of partisan sports fans, “I know I’m not a Yankee anymore. I have to understand the reaction of the fans.”
Loud boos were heard after the mention of his name in the pre-game introductions. Those jeers paled in comparison to the negative reception he received when he walked to the plate for his first at bat. The booing did not cease until Cano took a third strike which was cheered.
The Seattle second baseman struck out again in the eighth, but drove in a run in the fifth with a ground ball out. He got an infield single, stole a base and scored in the seventh.
The game is now behind him, so hopefully the fans can concentrate on rooting for the success of their team rather than for someone’s failure.