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Robinson Cano has had a down year, but he hasn't lost hope

Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners stands at

Robinson Cano of the Seattle Mariners stands at bat in the first inning against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium on Friday, July 17, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The blue jersey with the teal trim hanging behind him in his locker no longer feels strange to Robinson Cano.

Not in the visitors' clubhouse at Yankee Stadium, and not anywhere else.

A bearded Cano, in his second year with the Seattle Mariners, said as much Friday before making his fourth appearance in the Bronx since he left the Yankees after the 2013 season.

"Last year was difficult, the first time," Cano said. "But now I'm just going to play them like I play any other team."

Regardless of who he has played this year, Cano has hardly resembled the player Yankees fans watched in pinstripes. Before Friday night, the second baseman had a .251/.290/.370 slash line compared with a .310/.358/.499 line from 2005-14. He came in with six homers and 30 RBIs in 2015 compared with previous averages of 22 and 90.

"I'm human," said Cano, whose walk-up music for his first at-bat was a chorus of boos raining down from the stands. "I'm going to go through these kinds of things, but I'm the kind of guy that is always positive. There's a second half left."

Cano has traditionally hit better after the All-Star break. In his career, Cano has posted a .318/.366/.518 second-half slash line to his .298/.346/.473 mark in the first half.

"There's some guys that, the more they play, the better they get," he said.

Cano, who admitted earlier this month that he's been battling a stomach problem for almost a year and the results have been draining, doesn't use that as an excuse. And he has played better lately. In his last 12 games before the All-Star break, Cano hit .327 with two home runs. According to, 44.2 percent of the balls he put in play during that stretch were hit hard. His career average is 32.9 percent.

"Nothing's different," Cano said. "I would say luck because I've been hitting the ball hard all the time, just right at them."

Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said he is confident Cano will continue his rebound. "[That] has everything to do with his track record," he said.

But McClendon does not want Cano to try and turn a fourth-place team into a contender by himself because he signed a 10-year, $240-million contract.

"One of the things I told Robbie is I need Robbie to just be Robbie," he said. "Just contribute, just be a part. I don't need you to carry the club."

Cano was always just a part of the Yankees, though he was capable of carrying the team through a hot streak.

Fans were reminded of that before the game when the final play of the 2009 World Series flashed across the JumboTron.

"Cano fields, throws to first," John Sterling announced.

Yankees fans know the rest.

But on a night when those fans cheered their new No. 24, Chris Young, who homered in the second inning, it was clear that Cano's days in pinstripes were a distant memory for both sides.

New York Sports