When Robinson Cano signed with the Seattle Mariners in December of 2013, people were shocked that a team way out in the Pacific Northwest could sign a perennial All Star coming from one of the most storied franchises in baseball, the New York Yankees. It wasn’t just a shock to the fans in Seattle, but it really surprised everyone around baseball that Cano would leave New York and all the Yankees had to offer. The Bronx Bombers didn’t offer what he wanted and Seattle ended up out-bidding the Yankees to snatch the slugger.
In 2014, he provided more than anyone could imagine for this Mariners team. It was something that this ball club hadn’t had in a long time and it showed. Cano finished the season batting .314 with an .836 OPS. It wasn’t just the numbers that the three-hitter provided, he was a mentor, an All Star starter, and he helped bring this young Mariners ball club to within one game of a playoff appearance.
On the back of what Cano provided in 2014, Seattle wasn’t satisfied and wanted to go all-in in 2015 and make the Postseason for the first time since 2001. They went out and signed Nelson Cruz, who has been quite the signing so far in 2015 being the main producer for Seattle on offense. He was supposed to be that extra piece for Seattle to go along with their homegrown talent and take them to that next level. But what about Cano?
After that fantastic 2014 season, the 6’0″, 210-pounder’s first campaign in Seattle, 2015 hasn’t nearly been as kind to the 32 year-old second baseman. His numbers on offense are down and it has just been a major struggle so far. Without the production from Robby in the middle of that order, the Mariners have not had the season that they expected at all. It really shows what Cano means to this team when he isn’t hitting in the .300s.
Coming into the series versus the Tigers on July 6th, Cano was only hitting .248, which has been nowhere near his production in past seasons and it sure wasn’t the player the Mariners signed to be the face of the franchise along side Felix Hernandez. But, why has he struggled so much in 2015?
As reported in a USA TODAY interview, the Mariners starting second baseman has been battling some issues outside of baseball that may be affecting his play on the field.
First of all, his grandfather recently passed away back in March after losing a battle with lung cancer. “He was my No. 1 fan,” Cano told Jorge L. Ortiz of USA TODAY. “If he were alive now, he would call me and say, ‘Hey, what’s going on? Last year you had better numbers. What’s happening? Are you OK?'”
In addition to the death of his grandfather, the Dominican Republic native also revealed that he is dealing with stomach issues that date back to August of 2014. He was told after getting examined that he has acid reflux, which is very ironic because Mariners teammate Franklin Gutierrez also had stomach issues in the past and it actually forced him to sit out a year from baseball. Now, that probably won’t happen with Cano, but it has obviously been a major factor in his off year.
“Sometimes I play without any strength or energy, but you have to play, give the best of yourself,” Cano told Ortiz. “Some people may say, ‘Cano, he’s listless.’ But (the energy) is not the same.”
Cano isn’t making excuses for any of this, but it has definitely shown that it is taking a toll on him and his play on the field. We all have to remember, however, that he is human after all.
With all of this swirling around his head, he has quietly started to turn it around a little bit.
After coming off his worst month (June) in 2015, where he hit just .212, he has found something that has started to work a little bit in the past few weeks or so. So far in the month of July, Cano is batting .400 with a whopping 1.104 OPS with two homers and five RBIs. This is the player that everyone has been waiting for to breakout and if this is a sign of anything, he could finally be back.
Even in the last 28 days, he has had an average of .290. If it wasn’t for the slow start in April and May, we might be talking about another All Star appearance for Cano.
After his walk-off on July 7th, Cano’s his first since 2009, we could be talking about that moment as having sparked the turnaround. It isn’t as if the Mariners are completely done, but if they are going to get back in this thing, they have to get it turned around quickly and it starts with this second baseman.
I hope it is safe to say that Robinson Cano is back.