Robinson Cano has a reputation as a lazy player who wastes his ridiculous talent, because he doesn’t try hard. I believe this is somewhat true, but it’s definitely exaggerated. In Cano’s defense, I think he simply makes baseball look so effortless that spectators confuse it with apathy.
“Lazy” is not an apt word to describe Cano, but he definitely does not hustle, and that needs to change. Now.
The New York Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 on Wednesday, but Yanks seemed dead in the water for seven innings, as they headed for a fifth straight loss. The marquee moment of the Yankees’ struggles early in the game came in the sixth inning. With one out, Cano stepped in against J.A. Happ. He hit a soft groundball down the first base line. Adam Lind fielded it and stepped on the bag, with Cano nowhere in sight. Apparently Cano thought the ball was going to roll foul. He didn’t even run.
I was willing to give Cano a pass for most of this year, because the Yankees have been plagued with injuries, and the last thing they needed was Cano to pull his hamstring while busting it down the line on a routine ground ball to the second baseman. But they’re in the playoff hunt now, and they were losing 3-0 in a game that they absolutely needed to win. For Cano to just stand there in candid disbelief with his hands on his hips, playing umpire while the first baseman casually stepped on the bag, is completely unacceptable. If the Yankees didn’t need the win so badly, I would have wanted Joe Girardi to sit his ass on the bench. The fact that the Yankees had to keep him in the game made me even angrier.
It’s instances like this that contribute to the true aspect of Cano’s reputation, that the Yankees need his bat in the lineup too badly to bench him when he pulls stuff like this, or that the Yankees allow Cano to not play hard because of how talented he is.
I’m talking to you now, Cano. You are a phenomenal baseball player. You’ve carried this team all year long and we love you, but your lack of hustle is infuriating. You’re fortunate the team rallied late because if they didn’t, the picture of you standing there in the batter’s box with your hands on your hips would have been the lasting image of that game, and potentially the lasting image of the Yankees’ 2013 season. But you got lucky. The Yanks won and are still alive in the Wild Card race, and your RBI single in the eighth justified keeping you in the game. You have a chance to change that lasting image from one of hands-on-hips in failure, to one of arms raised in triumph.
But it’s going to take some hustle to get there.