TAMPA, Fla. - Lloyd McClendon, the new Mariners' manager, fired back Tuesday at Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, who knocked Robinson Cano for his lack of hustle.
Long's response? Well, Cano didn't run very hard at times.
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"Basically, if anybody looks at it, they're going to see that Robinson doesn't sprint down to first," Long said. "I think anybody who puts a clock on him would realize that."
But Long emphasized that was only a small part of the otherwise positive portrayal that he gave in a story about Cano that appeared Sunday in the New York Daily News. McClendon didn't as much defend his $240-million man, however, as he personally ripped Long for his comments.
"Last time I checked, I didn't know that Kevin Long was the spokesman for the New York Yankees," McClendon told ESPN.com. "That was a little surprising. I was a little [upset], and I'm sure Joe [Girardi] feels the same way. He's concerned with his team and what they're doing, not what the Seattle Mariners are doing.
"I'm a little surprised that Kevin Long is the spokesman for the New York Yankees. I wonder if he had any problems with Robbie when he wrote that book ["cage rat"] proclaiming himself as the guru of hitting."
When first told of McClendon's comments, Long uttered, "Oh boy" and pointed out that, no, he didn't consider himself a team spokesman. Long also said that he had a "close" relationship with Cano and texted him Tuesday to give a "heads-up" about the story, telling Cano that he hoped he "didn't take it the wrong way." Long had told the Daily News that the Yankees called him a "dog" in urging him to hustle more.
"Other than that, this guy is a tremendous human being, a tremendous character," Long said of Cano. "I couldn't be more pleased that he is with the Mariners. I know he's going to do good. I've already said that. I've seen him mature. I've seen him grow into the player he is today.
"Really, if you look at the 9 million good things that were said about him and you just want to harp on one thing, that's what you do."
Further up the Yankees' chain of command, Brian Cashman said he was "surprised" by Long's comments on Cano. But the general manager was hardly shocked to hear Cano knocked again for his jogs to first base. Cashman said it was a recurring theme during Cano's stay in the Bronx, and one that he was acutely aware of, even mentioning the media coverage of him and the comment sections of stories.
"I know I've been asked about Robbie and our fans have had issues," Cashman said. "I've spoken to it. Robbie was an incredible Yankee. I never had an issue with Robbie. He played every day. He played practically every inning and performed."
Cano met the media in Seattle for the first time this spring and was asked about the back-and-forth comments.
"I don't pay attention to that," Cano said. "I just want to talk about Seattle. Whatever they said I don't want to pay attention to that."
Cashman said he didn't plan to speak with Long about his comments, joking that "it's too late." The GM also said that he "would expect Lloyd McClendon to step up for his player." As for Cano himself, Cashman offered a more diplomatic company line than his hitting coach.
"Robbie was great," Cashman said. "They got a great player. Will we miss him? Yeah, we'll miss him. Ain't no lie."