PEORIA, Ariz. (AP) – Robinson Cano’s 13th major league season starts Sunday when the Seattle Mariners gather as a full squad for the first team workout of spring training, and the seven-time All-Star was all smiles after arriving at team headquarters.
There’s reason for Cano’s sunny disposition, despite the rain that fell Saturday in the greater Phoenix area. The Mariners came up just short of a wild-card playoff spot last season, one that saw Cano hit a career high 39 home runs. They’ve also made a number of major acquisitions in hopes of getting to the postseason for the first time since 2001.
“Last year we just missed it, we were pretty close, and he’s trying to make the team better,” Cano said about general manager Jerry Dipoto. “You see all the pieces that he got and that tells you a lot about a GM, that he wants to win. As a player that’s what you want. You want to come in and see the team that can go out there and compete.
“You know me, I always say this, I’m not a home run hitter. I would just say that was a great season, and I will go home and keep working hard and try to get better every year.”
Among the several new faces on the Seattle roster, one is Cano’s good friend, Jean Segura, who hit .319 with 203 hits, including 20 home runs with the Arizona Diamondbacks last season. Segura and Cano will be the Mariners’ double-play combination with Cano at second base and Segura at shortstop, and the two spent a lot of time working out together in the Dominican Republic in the offseason.
Segura worked with Cano’s hitting coach last offseason, then went out and had the best season of his career in 2016. He’s credited Cano with making a difference in that success.
Cano also looks forward to joining his teammates at the World Baseball Classic next month, in which the Dominican Republic will look to defend its 2013 title.
“You have to forget about who you are, you just have to go out there and give it everything you’ve got, because it’s so short and it’s must-win,” Cano said of the WBC. “You don’t have a chance to do a lot of things, you just have to go out there and win games and take advantage of little mistakes every time you get a man in scoring position.”
It’s clearly an event that means a great deal to Cano, a chance for he and his teammates, including Mariner Nelson Cruz, to display pride in their heritage.
“That’s special. There’s so many Dominican players that aren’t able to represent and be one of those (players),” he said. “Also, we won last time and that’s something that when you retire, you look back and say ‘You know what? We won the WBC as Dominicans.'”
After the WBC, it’s back to the business of getting the Mariners into playoff contention.
“Last year we lost like 30 games by one run,” Cano said. “We have a pretty good team. We have guys out there that want to win, including myself. I want to win so bad. I’m not preparing myself for just 162 games, I’m preparing to play in the playoffs.”
NOTES: The Mariners were able to get in their pitchers’ bullpen sessions Saturday under rainy skies, but the fields were too wet to do more than play catch. Sunday’s workout could also be affected by weather. … OF Leonys Martin is the only position player not expected to be on the field Sunday. Manager Scott Servais said he’d be a couple of days late arriving from Miami due to personal reasons. … RHP Jean Machi had yet to report to the club Saturday morning but was scheduled for a physical later in the day.
Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.