Robinson Cano swings during the 2012 Home Run Derby. (July...

Robinson Cano swings during the 2012 Home Run Derby. (July 9, 2012) Credit: AP

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The boos rang down from the start.

Not when Robinson Cano stepped into the batter's box for the first time with his father, Jose, on the mound, as he was last year in Phoenix.

No, it occurred a full two hours earlier when Cano, the defending Home Run Derby champion, appeared on the big screen during batting practice for a live in-stadium interview.

If one's eyes were closed, the response of the Kauffman Stadium crowd could have been mistaken for nearby Arrowhead Stadium with the Raiders in town.

Only after Cano went 0-for-10 in his turn during the competition -- he was the only one of the eight competitors to go homerless -- did the crowd cheer.

"I [won't] say it was low-class,'' Cano said. "This is for the fans, and that's what they felt like. It didn't bother me at all.''

What made this usually docile Midwestern town come down full force on Cano as if he were Al Davis? It was the result of what Royals fans saw as an unacceptable slight after what they understood as a promise made.

One of their own, Billy Butler, with 16 home runs, surely would represent the hometown Royals in the Derby. But Cano, who more than a month earlier hinted that Butler would be one of his picks, chose elsewhere.

And so the Kauffman Stadium crowd unleashed its fury on Cano, not letting up even after he was long gone from the competition, booing him at each cutaway on the big screen.

"It's not like I didn't pick him because I didn't like him,'' Cano said afterward. "Just a tough decision. I didn't pick Adam Dunn, who had [25] bombs. You had Edwin Encarnacion, who had 23. The thing is you get to pick three guys. It's a tough decision.''

Butler wasn't upset with Cano. "Robinson is a great player, he's a great guy,'' he said. "He's one of the best players in the league. You can't dislike the guy.''

And although the Royals fans wouldn't want to hear it, it's not as if Cano went with a handful of Omar Vizquels.

Joining Cano, who has 20 homers, on the AL team were Jose Bautista (27), Mark Trumbo (22) and Prince Fielder (15). Fielder beat Bautista in the final, which in Cano's eyes validated his choices. "I picked the right team. We won. American League ended up winning the trophy,'' he said.

In the first round, Bautista hit 11, Trumbo seven and Fielder five. Cano, serenaded with a "Billy Butler! Billy Butler!'' chant, hit the wall three times.

Cano and fellow All-Stars Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and CC Sabathia didn't arrive in their rooms here until about 5 a.m. Monday after the Yankees finished their four-games-in-three-days series in Boston just after midnight. "I feel a little bit tired, but it's not an excuse,'' Cano said. "I still enjoyed it.''

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