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Yankees people are still talking about Robinson Cano not hustling to first base

Feb 17, 2014, 8:12 AM EDT

Robinson Cano Getty Getty Images

You figure that Robinson Cano signing with another team would stop the talk from New York about him not hustling down the line on routine ground balls, but nope, it’s still a hot topic. John Harper of the Daily News has an interview with Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long about it today.

What’s striking to me is how much Long says to praise Cano and his work ethic. He talks about how he got in better shape, got a better attitude, put in hard work and did all sorts of things like extra cage work and training and stuff to make himself a better player with the Yankees. Yet the one thing that probably matters least in his game — appearing to run hard, or not, to first base on routine 4-3 putouts — is the thing Long, Harper and a host of other people in the Yankees Universe like to dwell on. Harper goes so far as to say it “taints” Cano’s brilliance.

I can see how it may be aesthetically annoying, but I really don’t get why people care so much. There is no hustle more false than the hustle to first on routine outs. At least when it comes from a big slugging superstar like Cano. Maybe once every 100 times not hustling down the line may cost him a base, but it’s probably also worth noting that Cano is the one dude in the Yankees lineup who hasn’t missed significant time to injury over the past several seasons.

I’ll take that mild annoyance over a pulled hamstring on a play where he was going to be out by 20 feet every time.

  1. dinofrank60 - Feb 17, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    Lack of engagement will get you criticized as fast as anything. Even if you are producing, at a high level, if you are nonchalant, people do not like it. It’s more important to look the part than doing what you do.

    Baseball has an amazing ability to celebrate mediocrity. The guys that eat innings, but are semi-effective get love. The guys that can field their position. but haven’t had a hit in 2 1/2 weeks get love. The guys that sit the bench and are clubhouse guys, but only get a pinch hit on the 32nd day of each month get love. The guys who have great pitch selection and walk, but can’t use that same selection to get hits are adored. The pitchers that get lit up for 2 innings, then they decide to throw at a .240 get lionized. The hitters that strikeout 40 times in month, groundout into a DP twice a week, but happen to connect for a homerun when they luck up are stars.

    But we’re supposed to think this is baseball at its best…

  2. dinofrank60 - Feb 17, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    Oh, I forgot. Celebrate the unwritten rules. You don’t want to show anybody up, now. It’s not polite to highlight ineffectiveness.

  3. potvinsux - Feb 17, 2014 at 5:01 PM

    I have watched a ton of Yankees games over the years. As far as Cano not running out routine grounders, so what? The times that drove me crazy were when he wouldn’t run out hits to the gap that the fielder would bobble or that would roll through to the wall. He’d end up one base short of where he should have been and end up costing the team a run. Or he’d go into his home run pose only to see the ball hit the top of the wall and he’d end up with a single instead of a stand-up double, or a double instead of a triple. Or worse, get thrown out at second trying to make up for his lack of hustle out of the box. When lack of hustle costs the team a scoring opportunity, that’s bad. Hell of a hitter and fielder though. I wish the Yanks still had him.

  4. musketmaniac - Feb 17, 2014 at 5:37 PM

    bottom line. Seattle got a very good baseball player

  5. mikhelb - Feb 17, 2014 at 5:53 PM

    probably the yankees coaches are still angry that Canó never did what he was told to do. Torre benched him (i think he later entered the game) for not running. Girardi also reprimanded Canó because he wouldn’t listen and more than once it was apparent he would only listen to what his dad told him to do (his dad’s opinion was: jog in routine plays). Maybe somebody else remembers those times were it was commented during yankees games about that issue.

    Jeter injuried himself running head first into third base to take an extra base which before had helped them win a few games, the same play for which Damon was praised during the 2009 world series. Hustling can lead to injuries when players dont usually hustle and want to do it all of a sudden, but for players who hustle everyday it can be no different than training drill. there are then those fragile players and it wont matter if they hustle or not, they will injure anyway.

  6. 4cornersfan - Feb 18, 2014 at 2:51 AM

    My thought on the subject is that ballplayer is paid to get on base. Rationalizing a lack of hustle on the basepaths by saying that he avoided a possible hamstring injury is a slippery slope. It can be used to justify a lack of effort in other areas of the game. Cano rarely looked to take an extra base on singles and it bit him on several notable occasions when the fielder bobbled the ball. Long is correct, Cano’s legacy will be forever scarred by his inability to understand how important the issue is to ballplayers and fans.

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