Robinson Cano leads the Mariners with a .301 batting average.
Jae C. Hong/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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.
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”It’s going to be weird,” Cano said. ”It’s going to feel a lot different being on the other side.”
After signing his $240 million, 10-year contract with Seattle 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 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 last 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.
Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon had no worries about how Cano would handle his return and the questions that are likely to come.
”I’m sure he’s going to be happy to get back to Yankee Stadium, obviously in a different role. He’s a professional. He’ll answer his questions and get ready to play,” McClendon said.
”Other than that he’s probably more anxious to get out on the field and play than deal with the media,” he 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.
Cano has just one home run, but the Mariners have been consistent that he wasn’t acquired to be a home run hitter. Cano has 11 RBI, scored 10 runs and been a teacher to others in Seattle’s lineup.
The most noticeable has been his work with Justin Smoak, who leads the team in RBIs and doubles through the first four weeks.
Cano was making time to enjoy the return to the Big Apple. He hoped to be able to walk around the city without too much hassle, noting that Yankee fans had given him privacy when he played there.
Cano was scheduled to appear on ”The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon on Monday night after making other appearances earlier in the day.
It’s the only trip for Seattle to New York this season.
”They’re different teams. But we have a team here that we can compete,” Cano said. ”I’m excited to be here and that’s why I choose here and I really like this city.”