In years past, Robinson Cano had plenty of pinstriped company at the All-Star Game.
So the Yankees second baseman had a one-word characterization for the 2013 edition.
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"Weird," Cano said Monday before captaining the AL's Home Run Derby team.
Cano, joined at Citi Field by only Mariano Rivera, was among four Yankees selected in 2006, the first year he made the All-Star team. The next time Cano made it, 2010, he was among eight Yankees. Eight were selected in '11 and four made it last season.
"You're used to seeing Jeter and A-Rod, CC,'' Cano said. "It's weird. But at the same time, they're not here this year and all you hope is they get ready for the second half.''
If he could pick one Yankee to share this season's All-Star experience with, it likely would be Rivera, who before the season announced his intention to retire after 2013.
"It's an honor," Cano said. "To be with a guy like Mariano, not only as a player but as a person, is an honor.''
Because of an injury bug that hit the Yankees almost from the day pitchers and catchers reported Feb. 12, Cano has been called on to carry the Yankees this season and has done a reasonable job of it.
At the break, Cano, 30, a free agent after the season, leads the club in average (.302), OBP (.386), slugging (.531), homers (21), RBIs (65), hits (107), runs (53) and walks (48).
"I would say [I've had] a good half,'' Cano said. "Maybe not the one I've had before, but it was good. You don't have the teammates you used to have in the past, but at the same time, you have to appreciate what the rest of the guys have done so far.''
Cano, because of the injuries to home run threats such as Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and even the declining Alex Rodriguez, has seen fewer good pitches to hit. But after being criticized for not being selective enough in the past, he has taken his walks.
"That's all I've had [in] whole years,'' Cano said of his 48 walks. Indeed, the only years in which he has had more were 2012 (61) and 2010 (57).
During his meeting with reporters Monday afternoon, Cano broke into his biggest smile when he was asked if he thought his reception at Citi Field would be warmer than what he heard last year at this time, when the fans in Kansas City thought he broke a promise to select the Royals' Billy Butler to the AL Derby squad.
Cano was consistently booed during the two days at Kauffman Stadium, most vociferously during the Derby. To the delight of the crowd, he was the only one of the eight competitors to go homerless (0-for-10).
"Hopefully," he said of the Citi Field reaction, "it will be better than last year.''