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After disappointing first half, Mets' Robinson Cano shows he's still got it with three-homer game

Mets second baseman Robinson Cano singles during the

Mets second baseman Robinson Cano singles during the first inning of a game against the Padres at Citi Field on Tuesday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Robinson Cano gets that Mets fans are disappointed with his play this season. He knows they expected much more. But he doesn’t believe he’s lost some part of his game and thinks people will see a higher level of play the rest of the way.

They saw it Tuesday night, when he hit three homers and drove in five runs against the Padres to give the Mets a 5-0 lead in the seventh inning. Cano hit his first two off rookie starter Chris Paddack, a solo shot in the fourth and a two-run blast in the sixth. An inning later, he connected against lefty Logan Allen. The Mets beat the Padres, 5-2.    

“The first half wasn’t something I ever could have expected of myself,” Cano said before the game at Citi Field. “I know I am better than that and the season’s not over yet.”

Cano batted no worse than .271 in any of his previous 14 seasons. He had a lifetime slash line of .304/.355/.493 and averaged 22 homers and 88 RBIs when he was traded to the Mets from Seattle in the offseason. His slash line for this season entering the game was .243/.288/.377, with six home runs and 22 RBIs.

Having a season far worse than any in his career has been painful. Of the first half of the season, he said, “It was hard [and] it wasn’t just the numbers – I could see they weren’t what I wanted.”

Cano mentioned he’d been hit by pitches on the hands more than once this season. He said swinging the bat after that is “not the same; it makes it tougher” but that “it can’t be an excuse.”

The second half has begun a bit better. In the first nine games after the All-Star break, he hit .265 with two home runs and four RBIs. He doesn’t necessarily think it’s about his swing or a change he has made.

“I don’t think my swing is better. I think it’s falling in now,” Cano said. “A lot of balls were hit hard but right at them. Now it’s getting better because they’re going where they aren’t. Baseball is like that, sometimes you do things right but don’t get results, and that is frustrating.”

Manager Mickey Callaway shares Cano’s optimism about the rest of the season.

“He’s been through ups and downs at the plate, but when he’s going good, he can still be an elite hitter,” Callaway said. “We saw it in spring training. We saw it coming out of spring training. Then he hit a little bit of a lull and it seems like he’s swinging the bat better the past month or so.

“He’s always going to be able to hit. These Hall of Fame-type hitters, they don’t lose the ability to hit. Are they going to go through rougher patches as they get older? Yes – that’s just reality. But you’re going to look up at the end of most of these years and he’s going to have some pretty good years. He can just flat-out hit.”

Cano loved his nine seasons with the Yankees and being a 2009 World Series champion. He would like nothing more than to experience the same success in his return trip to the Big Apple. Although he admitted, “It’s hard to truly enjoy everything when you are not winning,” he added that the Mets' core has “great chemistry” and the potential for success.

“I know there were a lot of expectations with coming back, but I don’t think they were bigger than what I normally expect of myself,” Cano said. “I know how hard I work in the offseason and how I prepare myself. Sometimes things don’t go the way you want it, but I am the type of guy that keeps it positive. You won’t see me slamming bats in the dugouts or making excuses. It was not a good half. There’s a lot of baseball left.”

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