Robinson Cano can't get contract talk out of his head

Yankees' Robinson Cano stretches while warming up for

Yankees' Robinson Cano stretches while warming up for practice. (Feb. 20, 2013) (Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.)

TAMPA, Fla. -- Robinson Cano said he is focused on baseball, not a new contract. But that doesn't mean he isn't thinking about it. "It's never going to go out of your head," Cano said. "That's all I can say."

The statement was by far the most interesting one he offered Friday morning when he was asked about general manager Brian Cashman's disclosure the previous day that the Yankees have made a "significant" offer to extend Cano's contract.

Cano mostly declined to elaborate on his thoughts, not even confirming he had seen the offer made to his agent, Scott Boras. "I don't want to talk about this and I hope after today, I don't want to be a distraction to the team," he said. "I just want to focus on playing baseball."

After his team lost its seventh straight exhibition game, falling to the Phillies, 10-5, to drop to 1-7, Joe Girardi said he doesn't think Cano will be affected.

"I think it's fairly normal for when a guy is a free agent to think about his contract, but I also think it's normal for a guy who's arbitration-eligible to think about his contract," Girardi said. "This is how we make our living. But I think Robbie will be able to block it out and have a good year and play well . . . Robbie's going to get paid. One way or the other, Robbie's going to get paid. I don't think that's Robbie's biggest concern."

Cashman said more than he wanted to Thursday when he revealed the offer had been made; he had thought he was merely echoing what Hal Steinbrenner had said. So Cashman, having already had what he called his "Biden gaffe" -- a reference to the sometimes foot-in-mouth vice president -- didn't say much about Cano's comment.

"Whether you are or are not doesn't change anything," he said. "There's nothing you can do about it."

Cano, making $15 million in the final year of his contract, is very likely to hit the free-agent market after the season, which the Yankees have long believed would be the case.They've had conversations with Boras about an extension, but nothing is close.

If a deal doesn't appear to be in the offing, free-agents-to-be often will ask their agent to cut off talks so the topic isn't a day-to-day focus during the season.

"I'm going to let Scott decide that," Cano said. "I'm just going to go out there and just play. I have one more year on my contract and I have to perform and help the team win another championship."

Asked if the topic already had become a distraction, Cano responded with a simple "nope."

But his "it's never going to go out of your head" suggested that the issue is one that he can't quite purge from his thoughts. Said Cano, "I don't want to go farther than what I said. I'm just going to focus on playing."

Girardi pointed out that Cano's situation could work out for the best. "It can be a positive for a lot of guys," he said. "They even have better years when they're in their walk years."

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