It was the one topic capable of wiping away Robinson Cano's ever-present smile.
Several hours before Cano took the field as the American League's starting second baseman in the 84th All-Star Game, the Yankee was asked about a comment his father had made minutes earlier.
Most popular baseball stories
The crux of the remark was a restatement of something Jose Cano said early in spring training -- that he was confident Cano, a free agent at season's end, would remain with the Yankees.
"Next question," Cano said tersely. "I'm not saying anything about the contract."
It has been the topic that, despite Cano's wishes, hasn't gone away. He discussed it in spring training, though not in great detail, then all but indicated there would be a moratorium on contract talk. The 30-year-old has mostly stuck to his guns but, naturally, that hasn't stopped others from discussing his impending free agency.
Jose Cano, speaking March 4 in Tampa before the Dominican Republic team -- for which the elder Cano was a coach and the younger its second baseman -- worked out at Steinbrenner Field, and said he didn't think Cano would feel "comfortable going to another city."
Cano, after taking batting practice that day, laughed when told of the remark. "That's what he says," he said.
There was no smile from Robinson Cano, not regarding that topic anyway, Tuesday.
Plenty, too, has happened since then, not the least of which was Cano's decision to leave super-agent Scott Boras for Roc Nation Sports, an agency formed by Jay-Z. Robinson Cano privately hasn't expanded on the switch, nor did Jose, though he offered more than his son has.
"That's the company . . . they say whatever he touches turns to gold," Jose said of Jay-Z. "I know they're going to do very good with Robbie."
As for the reason for splitting with Boras, Jose said: "I don't know. I can't say anything. Robinson can tell you that . . . this is a business. It's nothing personal. The same way agents make decisions to take some players and [not others]."
As for the decision Cano faces at year's end, Jose said he feels the same as he did in March.
"I'm confident the Yankees will come up with something good at the end of the season," Jose Cano said. "And I hope he can stay here. It's close to home. It's only three hours. If he goes somewhere else, it might be five, six hours. I don't want to go there. But it's not my decision. He has to make the decision."
A decision that will come down to dollars and years. Managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner said in the spring the Yankees had made a "significant offer" to Cano, though he didn't specify. The feeling then, and this is still the case, is it would be an extreme long shot for something to happen with a new contract before the end of the season.
Jose Cano said, "I don't know" when asked if Robinson would take less to stay with the Yankees but said he'll be consulted whatever the final call is.
"He always asks the family what we think," Jose said. "But he's the one going to make it. He's going to make decision in the end."