SEATTLE — Did you know your heckling doesn’t bother Robinson Cano? He even kind of enjoys it.
“They go to the game, what you want to say to a fan?” Cano said. “As long as they don’t say stuff about my family, I have fun with that. You can say anything about baseball, I don’t mind.”
Cano should get a few boos when the Seattle Mariners start a three-game set in New York on Friday, but he promises to have fun with it.
The longtime Yankee, who signed a 10-year, $240-million dollar deal with Seattle before the 2014 season, isn’t expecting a flood of emotions to wash over him in his return. He’s been back to New York twice to play already with the Mariners and doesn’t see it as too much different than any other road trip, except maybe the memories.
“For me, it’s always good to go back,” he said. “That’s where I got family, friends. I went to school in Jersey. So it’s always fun, but I go there like . . . going to face any other team. Going to go there and do my job.”
It’s a conflicted time for Cano the player. He’s second in the majors with five home runs, but four came in the first three games when he hit .308. The following five games he had two hits and struck out six times. He is hitting just .189 through nine games.
It’s not only Cano who has struggled for the Mariners. The Seattle offense managed one run or less three times during its six-game homestand. Cano did hit a home run on Wednesday against the Rangers, only his second extra-base hit since the opening series at Texas, but it isn’t enough to calm concerned Mariners fans.
Mariners manager Scott Servais believes his star might be overreaching after his quick start, and perhaps it’s partly due to that great first three games.
“I think deep in counts they’ve obviously pitched him tough,” Servais said. “He hasn’t got great pitches to hit deep in counts. I think he’d be the first to say there’s probably some ball fours in there that he’s been aggressive, he wants to get it going like everybody else and maybe gotten away from his game a little bit there.”
For his part, Cano says he’s just trying to not let the umpire take the bat out of his hands.
“I don’t want to blame, I don’t want to put excuses, but sometimes it’s hard when they call ball on the outside line, 3-2 with two strikes,” said Cano, who has eight RBIs. “It’s hard when you know they’ve been calling those pitches. I’m trying to be patient, I’m trying to see a strike, but it’s hard. I don’t want it taken away from me.”
Perhaps the home run Wednesday will get Cano back on track for a bounce-back season after a miserable start to the 2015 campaign blemished last year. Cano rebounded in the second half to hit .287 with 21 home runs and 79 RBIs.
Or maybe all he needs is a return to Yankee Stadium, surrounded by friends and family and the familiar sounds of heckling.