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Hartnett: Nonchalant Cano Will Never Lead Yankees

Robinson Cano (credit: Al Bello/Getty Images)

Robinson Cano (credit: Al Bello/Getty Images)

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‘Hart of the Order’
By Sean Hartnett
» More Columns

It only took one playoff game without Derek Jeter for Yankees fans to get a taste of what life will be like once their all-effort captain hangs up his spikes for good.

Cano is the natural heir to Jeter’s throne as the face of the Yankees, but he will never be the Bombers’ heartbeat.  When Jeter played his first full major league season in 1996, everyone quickly noticed there was something burning inside, fueling him to play beyond his natural abilities.

When Cano arrived on the scene in May 2005, his collection of frustrating tendencies and bad habits were there for everyone to see.

For a brief time, former Yankees coach Larry Bowa was able to cut some of the  nonchalance out of Cano’s game.  Bowa’s tough love and disciplinarian attitude kept Cano accountable whenever his lackadaisical traits emerged or when he failed to hustle out a close play at first base.

The only thing Yankees fans have seen from Cano in the 2012 playoffs is the reemergence of his worst habits and a painfully obvious lack of desire.  As Cano is mired in an 0-for-26 playoff slump, Yankees fans are noticing that there isn’t a fighting spirit beneath his all-world ability.

SWEENY: Sans Jeter, Yanks need leadership

Outside of Cano spiking his helmet after a blown first base call in Game 1, I’ve never seen him get angry in his eight years playing in the Bronx.  He didn’t protest Game 2’s game-changing decision when Omar Infante was called safe by second base umpire Jeff Nelson after clearly being tagged in the chest.

Instead of making a true statement of displeasure to Nelson, Cano walked away from the bag as a furious Joe Girardi eventually got tossed.  Obviously, nobody wants a player of Cano’s ability to get himself thrown out of a game, but could he at least show us he has a pulse?

Comparing Cano to Jeter might be unfair based upon Jeter’s 18 years of carrying the Yankees’ interlocking ‘NY’ and an unparallelled desire to win, but you would think his example would rub off a little.

It is far to ponder how just good Cano would be if he had the mentality of fellow 29-year-old second baseman Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox.

Yes, Pedroia and the Red Sox are sitting at home watching the playoffs — but Boston fans can point to playoff moments when the iconic Red Sox second baseman stood up and provided the inspiration.

Even when the Red Sox were dead and buried this season, Pedroia played with a broken finger to send a clear message to his teammates.

Yankees fans aren’t asking Cano to play through a broken finger like Pedroia or to play on one leg like Jeter.  All they’re asking for is a bit of intensity.  Have you ever seen Cano get his uniform dirty and come up from his knees to make a bang-bang play at first base?

Say what you’d like about Alex Rodriguez’s personality or fading abilities, but at least A-Rod attempts diving plays at third base, gets his uniform dirty and busts it down the line to try beat out grounders.

Some guys have it in their DNA — others don’t.

Are you sick of seeing Cano get by on talent alone?  Does he lack the desire needed to ever lead the Yankees?   Sound off below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.