Robinson Cano starts rehab assignment for Mariners
SEATTLE (AP) — Robinson Cano knows he wasn’t fluid or dazzling Monday night in his return to baseball.
Especially returning to a completely new position at first base.
The eight-time All-Star began his rehab assignment with the Seattle Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate as he prepares for his return from an 80-game suspension for violating baseball’s joint drug agreement.
He played eight innings at first base for the Tacoma Rainiers, making three nice defensive plays. And in four plate appearances, he had a hit and walk before departing for a pinch runner in the eighth inning.
“I am just happy to be back on the field,” Cano said. “The past few months, I have just been waiting for this day. I am happy that everything went good today.”
Primarily a second baseman his entire career, Cano is expected to play first base, third base and some second base during this rehab assignment.
At times Monday, Cano looked fidgety at first base.
“It is really different,” Cano said. “You have to bend and stretch your legs. It is hard on me. Right now, everything is sore.”
But he held his own at a new position.
In the third inning, he applied a tag on Colorado Springs’ Dylan Moore during a stolen-base rundown. In the fifth, he scooped up a short-hop throw from third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean. And in the seventh, he stretched to snare Mejias-Brean’s high throw at the bag.
Later in the seventh, Domingo Santana hit a sharp grounder at Cano, which deflected off the infielder’s glove. It was ruled a single.
Cano said he put in a lot of work back in the Dominican Republic, and even consulted with Albert Pujols, of the Los Angeles Angels, and Edwin Encarnacion, of the Cleveland Indians about some of the nuances of playing first base.
“The hard part, you have to keep in your mind on every ground ball, you have to go to the bag,” said Cano, who played first base for the first time in 2,531 major- or minor-league career games. “That was the first thing I had in my head - don’t be late and be ready for every ground ball.”
Cano is expected to serve as the Rainiers’ designated hitter on Tuesday. He will have Wednesday off, then go off to Single-A Everett for four games starting Thursday. After that, he is eligible to return to the Mariners on Aug. 14 while the team is in Oakland.
Cano had not played a game in 85 days, not since fracturing the fifth metacarpal on his right hand after being hit by a pitch May 13 at Detroit. He was suspended two days later.
He was hitting .287 with 23 RBIs in 39 games prior to his injury.