As Robinson Cano prepares to make his first appearance at Yankee Stadium as an opposing player Tuesday night, if there's anybody who understands his decision to leave, it's his former teammates.
It may be hard for fans to envision their favorite players in another team's jersey, but players move around so much these days that the sight of a friend in different garb doesn't faze them.
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"Baseball is a business like any other business,'' Derek Jeter said. "Sometimes people lose sight of that.''
Added CC Sabathia, "People move all the time in this game. He moved on to a better situation for him and we've moved on, obviously.''
A homegrown Yankee, Cano had the chance to finish his career in pinstripes, much as Mariano Rivera did last year and Jeter says he's going to do this year.
During the offseason, the Yankees offered Cano $175 million for seven years to keep playing his home games in the Bronx, which he had been doing since being called up in early 2005. But the Seattle Mariners came in with a 10-year offer worth $240 million that was nearly impossible to pass up.
So given 65 million more reasons to move to the West Coast, Cano did just that. And no one in his old clubhouse -- including his former manager -- holds that against him.
"A lot of times when you have players of that magnitude, you think they'll be in the same uniform their whole careers, but that's not how the game works,'' Joe Girardi said. "Look at Albert Pujols. I'm sure a lot of people thought he wouldn't be an Angel. And now he is.''
Cano went 2-for-4 with his fifth double and 11th RBI in the Mariners' 6-5 win over the Texas Rangers on Sunday, lifting his average to .301. It's tempting to think about what the Yankees would look like with Cano's bat still in the middle of their lineup. But it didn't work out that way.
Sabathia acknowledged that it's "tough'' to lose Cano's production, calling him "the best second baseman in the league . . . But I like what we got back and I like what our team is looking like.''
Sabathia also knows all about leaving a team he liked playing with for a significantly more lucrative contract. After he pitched the Milwaukee Brewers into the playoffs in 2008, Sabathia turned down their five-year offer worth $100 million to sign with the Yankees for seven years and $161 million.
Brewers owner Mark Attanasio responded to Sabathia's decision by saying baseball might need a salary cap to combat the Yankees' deep pockets. "At the rate the Yankees are going, I'm not sure anyone can compete with them,'' he said then.
But this time it was the small-market Mariners who came in with the more lucrative bid (at least in terms of total value), putting the Yankees in the unusual decision of getting outbid.
That's why no one in the Yankees' clubhouse is upset with Cano for walking away. Put in the same situation, they probably would have made the same decision.
"It is a business, and it's a business on both sides,'' Jeter said. "It's not just the player side. It's also on the organization side. As much as the people would like to see guys stay with one team, it doesn't always happen.''