Robinson Cano has nothing but love for Angel "Nao" Presinal, the Dominican trainer who has been banned from major-league clubhouses for his links to steroids.
Presinal is a curious figure. Major League Baseball wants nothing to do with him, but he is popular and widely used in the Dominican Republic. In fact, he was a strength and conditioning coach for the Dominican team during the 2006 World Baseball Classic. Alex Rodriguez, who admitted long-term steroid use last week, was linked to Presinal on Friday by the Daily News.
On Friday, Presinal told ESPNdeportes.com: "I did work with Alex during that period of time, just like I helped all of my fellow Dominicans. He used to look for me. But I wasn't working with him on an exclusive basis. I was rotating between players and teams.
"I have never advised a player [to take steroids]; I have never talked about steroids with any athlete, with any baseball player. I just wish there was someone out there with the courage to accuse me directly. That will never happen because folks respect me."
Cano worked out with Presinal in the 2007-08 offseason after an oblique muscle strain. Said Cano: "I heard about him, and how good he is. Every Dominican knows him."
Presinal has worked with many of the top players in the Dominican Republic, and Cano was thrilled with how he recovered from his injury. He said he worked out with Presinal nearly daily a year ago and got back to full strength.
There have been negative reports about Presinal since a 2001 incident in which a bag filled with steroids reportedly belonging to Presinal's client, former All-Star outfielder Juan Gonzalez, was found at a Toronto airport. No charges were filed in the incident, but MLB has considered Presinal persona non grata since.
Cano acknowledged having heard talk of steroids from TV reports but said he also knows the results other players have obtained through working with Presinal.
"To tell you the truth, I don't care about what happened with him in the past," Cano said. "I would say I know what I've got to do, and I know that he can help me."
Many players use Presinal while returning from injury, Cano said, adding that he would gladly work with Presinal again if he felt the need.
The reason he did not work with Presinal this winter -- aside from the fact that he was healthy -- is that Cano lives in San Pedro de Macoris and Presinal in Santo Domingo. The round-trip drive of two to three hours daily for workouts takes a toll, and Cano preferred to work out closer to home.
Cano said he didn't worry about the risk of being tainted as "guilty by association" because he knows he hasn't done anything wrong. He would not comment on whether Rodri guez is associated with Presinal but confirmed that he had seen Presinal around the team in the past couple of seasons -- not in any official capacity but in places such as the team hotel, at the gym or in restaurants in cities in which the Yankees were playing.
Several other Yankees from the Dominican Republic -- Melky Cabrera, Damaso Marte and non-roster infielder Angel Berroa -- said they are familiar with Presinal but have not worked with him.
Presinal also has worked with a few current and former Mets. Luis Castillo said he used to work out with him but "not anymore." Jose Reyes said he knows him from the 2006 Dominican WBC team.
Mets general manager Omar Minaya said Presinal works with a lot of athletes in the Dominican, not just baseball players. Asked if the Mets or MLB had told players not to work out with him, Minaya said, "I don't know if you can do that."
Presinal's roster of current and former famous clients include former Mets Pedro Martinez and Moises Alou and former Yankee Ruben Sierra, as well as David Ortiz, Vladimir Guerrero, Bartolo Colon, Miguel Tejada, Adrian Beltre and Jose Guillen, according to reports.
Staff writers David Lennon and Anthony Rieber contributed to this story.