Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cano Goes Deep In Yankees Grapefruit Opener

Cano goes deep in 1st spring game

There's been much debate this off-season as to whether or not the Yankees should sign Robinson Cano to a long term extension prior to him becoming a free agent after the season. While the Yankees don't normally negotiate extensions prior to the expiration of a contract, it is believed they will make every attempt to get one done with Cano before the 2013 season starts. He's slated to earn $15MM in 2013.

Cano, who will be leaving for the World Baseball Classic on March 3, started his pre-season off with a bang by homering off of Braves pitcher Yohan Flander this afternoon. The Yankees topped Atlanta 8-3 to win their grapefruit league opener.

It's somewhat incredible to think that this will be Cano's 9th season in pinstripes. He unexpectedly made his Major League debut in 2005 to replace a struggling Tony Womack and immediately impressed. (.297/.320/.458, 14 HR, 62 RBI). Last season Cano hit a career high 33 home runs and also established a new personal mark for OPS (.929), but like everyone else, disappeared in the playoffs.

Despite another All-Star appearance in '12, Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards,and some gaudy numbers, Cano was inconsistent last season. At times, he fell into some of his old bad habits of chasing pitches outside of the strike zone and had just a .646 OPS against left-handed starters after an .879 mark in 2011.  This season will really be a challenge for Cano with no big bat in the lineup to protect him.

Cano will likely hit third with Mark Teixeira in the clean up spot.  Cano should see less fastballs and good pitches to hit unless Teixeira regains some of his pre-2010 consistency. In an unusual display of honesty from today's athlete, Teixeira recently admitted that his best days are behind him and that it gets harder to put up big numbers every year. Not something you really want to hear from a guy who still has three years left on his deal.

The Yankees also got a home run on Saturday from outfielder Zolio Almonte. Whenever queried as to who impressed him last spring, Joe Girardi consistently mentioned Almonte. The 23-yr old was the primary right fielder for the Trenton Thunder last season and should start this year in Triple-A after he hit .270 with 21 HR and 90 RBI in the Eastern League in 2012.

David Phelps, in a battle for the fifth spot in the rotation with Ivan Nova, started the game and threw two scoreless innings.

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