(AP) – Robinson Cano knows it will be awkward from the moment he walks into Yankee Stadium and has to figure out the route to the visitors’ clubhouse for the first time in his career.
And that’s before he takes the field in the Bronx wearing something other than pinstripes.
”It’s going to be weird,” Cano said. ”It’s going to feel a lot different being on the other side.”
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After signing his $240 million, 10-year contract with Seattle (10-14) in the offseason, the All-Star second baseman will return to New York for the first time as a member of the Mariners on Tuesday night when they open a three-game series against the Yankees.
Cano figures the reaction will be mixed. He was supposed to be the next great Yankees player to spend his career in New York, following the lead of Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada and the soon-to-be retiring Derek Jeter.
Players simply don’t give up the limelight of New York to go be isolated in the Pacific Northwest.
But Cano did, with contract security and millions of dollars behind making that decision. The flip side is now facing what he left behind.
”Hopefully good,” Cano said of the reception he’ll get. ”The way that I left New York, it wasn’t a good way. You just go there to play the game and try to beat them.”
Cano knows that his comments the day he signed with Seattle still have reverberations, when he said he didn’t feel respected by the Yankees (15-10) with their contract offer. The Yankees’ top offer was $175 million over seven years.
Cano said he didn’t want to go through the contract process again in his mid-to-late 30s and Seattle’s willingness to push the contract out to 10 years sealed the agreement.
”I didn’t feel respect. I didn’t get respect from them and I didn’t see any effort,” Cano said in December.
Cano tried to play down over the weekend how the separation from the Yankees happened, saying his focus was on being back in Yankee Stadium and seeing friends and former teammates.
”I don’t want to blame anybody. I’m looking forward to going there,” Cano said.
Cano will face the first-place Yankees putting up numbers thus far that were expected and with a team that has settled down after an eight-game losing streak. He is Seattle’s top hitter with a .301 average although he has just one home run.
He last faced Yankees starter CC Sabathia (3-2, 4.78 ERA) in 2008, going 1 for 3 in his only at-bats against the left-hander. Sabathia is 8-0 with a 1.36 ERA in his last nine starts against the Mariners, with New York winning all of them.
Sabathia has allowed four runs over 13 innings in winning consecutive outings while enjoying one of baseball’s best run support averages at 7.88.
Seattle will look to improve to 7-3 against left-handed starters as it counters with right-hander Chris Young (0-0, 3.50), seeking his first win since Sept. 2, 2012.
Former Mariners great Ichiro Suzuki is 8 for 21 with two home runs against Young, who has held Mark Teixeira hitless in eight at-bats.
Teixeira hit a tying homer in the seventh inning and Jacoby Ellsbury scored the go-ahead run thanks to a passed ball and wild pitch in the eighth in Sunday’s 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels.