This wasn’t supposed to be happening. This was supposed to be at least a six-week injury. But there was Robinson Cano on Saturday night, on Coney Island, wearing a white Brooklyn Cyclones jersey with No. 24 on the back and starting at second base against the Staten Island Yankees.
Cano tore his left hamstring while running out a single when the Mets played in Pittsburgh on Aug. 4. One day shy of four weeks later, he was playing his first rehab game.
Between the hamstring and the results, things went well for him at MCU Park.
The 36-year-old eight-time All-Star grounded out in his first two at-bats but lined a double and an RBI single in his final two trips to the plate. He didn’t appear to be favoring the leg. His 2-for-4 night ended when he left for a pinch runner after the single in the seventh.
After the Cyclones’ 11-2 win, Cano said the plan is for him to take Sunday off, play for the Cyclones again Monday against Staten Island in the regular-season finale and rejoin the Mets on Tuesday for their game in Washington, if the hamstring is good.
“Thank God I don’t feel anything and hopefully I don’t feel anything when I play again Monday,” Cano said.
To be at this point this soon after the tear didn’t come as a shock to Cano.
“I’m not surprised because I worked really hard,” he said. “I always thank God for everything. You know how it is. When you work hard, all you see are good results. For me, I’ve got to also give the credit to the trainers, the work that they put in.”
This first season with the Mets hasn’t gone too well for him.
In 2008, he had a career-low batting average of .271 and a career-low on-base percentage of .305 for the Yankees. His batting average was at .252 and he had a .295 on-base percentage with 10 homers and 32 RBIs in 86 games for the Mets when he blew out the hamstring, leading to his third trip to the injured list.
But he also was heating up when he went down, going 9-for-15, including five extra-base hits, in four games, lifting his average from .235. He had multiple hits in each game.
“It’s frustrating, but at the same time, you’ve got to take whatever God gives you,” Cano said. “Sometimes things happen for a reason. Thank God it wasn’t worse than what it was. It was supposed to be six to eight weeks, and in four, I’m able to play and go on my max. It’s good.”
In the sixth, Cano led off and fell behind lefty Alfredo Garcia 1-and-2 before lining a pitch hard to left. He didn’t need to run full out and made it to second standing up. He scored on an error, giving the Cyclones a 3-2 lead.
His RBI single against righty Sean Boyle landed in center with one out in a seven-run seventh, making it a 5-2 game.
“It feels weird,” Cano said about hitting again. “I haven’t seen pitching in a month.”
Defensively, he didn’t get to field any grounders, but he turned an inning-ending double play in the second.
Joe Panik has been getting a lot of time at second base for the Mets in Cano’s absence.
“I don’t want to look back and see those games that I haven’t played,” Cano said. “Just look forward and go back and give everything I’ve got.”