NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long took issue with Robinson Cano’s hustle — or lack thereof — on Sunday.
“If somebody told me I was a dog, I’d have to fix that,” Long told the New York Daily News. “When you choose not to, you leave yourself open to taking heat, and that’s your fault. For whatever reason, Robbie chose not to.”
Cano, of course, is no longer a Yankee. The superstar second baseman bolted the Bronx for Seattle in December when he signed a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Mariners.
The five-time All-Star’s new manager, Lloyd McClendon, defended Cano and called out Long for his comments.
“Last time I checked, I didn’t know that Kevin Long was the spokesman for the New York Yankees,” McClendon told ESPN.com. “That was a little surprising. I was a little p—– off, and I’m sure Joe (Girardi) feels the same way. He’s concerned with his team and what they’re doing, not what the Seattle Mariners players are doing.
“I’m a little surprised that Kevin Long is the spokesman for the New York Yankees. I wonder if he had any problems with Robbie when he wrote that book (“Cage Rat”) proclaiming himself as the guru of hitting.”
This weekend, Long said several members of the Yankees tried to talk to Cano about his habit of giving up on a base hit.
“We all talked to him,” Long said. “I’m pretty sure (Derek) Jeter talked to him a number of times. Even if you run at 80 percent, no one’s going to say anything. But when you jog down the line, even if it doesn’t come into play 98 percent of the time, it creates a perception.”
Long said the 31-year-old slugger was “becoming a leader” in the Yankees’ clubhouse after overcoming issues with his “swing,” “makeup” and “body composition” early in his career.
“But he just wouldn’t make that choice to run hard all the time,” Long said. “The reasons aren’t going to make sense. He might say his legs didn’t feel good, or he was playing every day and needed to save his energy. To me there was no acceptable answer.”
Cano debuted with the Yankees in 2005. In his nine seasons with the Bombers, the 2009 World Series champion batted .309 with 204 homers and 822 RBIs in 1,374 games.
He was far and away New York’s best player in 2013, batting .314 with 27 homers and 107 RBIs in a lineup that offered little to no protection.
“I understand,” McClendon said, according to ESPN. “I get it. I was a major-league player. There are times when you hit balls and you’re frustrated as hell and you don’t give it 100 percent. As long as you don’t dog it down the line, what’s the difference between 65 and 85 percent? Just run down the line. Sometimes that stuff is blown out of proportion.
“To me, the most important thing is the guy goes out there for 160 games a year, he hits .330, he drives in over 100 runs and he hits 25 to 30 home runs. I just need Robinson to be Robinson. Like all the rest of my guys know, just don’t dog it. Am I expecting you to give me 110 percent down the baseline every night? No. I’m expecting you to give me a good effort.”
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