Here is proof Robinson Cano is becoming a leader for the Yankees: He is taking one for the team. Cano is not thrilled with batting second but he is doing what is best for the team as Joe Girardi shuffles the lineup because of injuries. Cano came up with his first big day of the 2013 season yesterday, driving a double high off the wall in left in the third inning, and following that with a home run to left-center in the fifth and then a mighty home run to right in the sixth in the Yankees’ 11-6 pitching-challenged victory over the Indians at Progressive Field, spoiling Nick Swisher’s home opener for his new team. Before yesterday, Cano had not managed an extra-base hit or an RBI this season. And that came on the heels of a terrible postseason, going 3-for-40. This marked Cano’s first multiple-home run game on the road since April 29, 2010, in Baltimore. It was the 11th time in his career Cano hit two home runs in a game. When I asked Cano last week about batting second, he chose his words carefully. He said he had never really hit second so he was trying to get used to the switch of moving from third or fourth to second. “I’m trying my best,’’ he said with a smile. Asked about batting second again last night, his fifth straight game in that spot, Cano offered, “I’m going to be honest, I never hit second, and so, I know we don’t have the guys. It will be different when we get [Curtis] Granderson and [Derek] Jeter back.’’ Cano hardly batted second since his rookie season in 2005, when he had 244 at-bats there. He didn’t bat second at all the last two seasons and had 53 at-bats in the No. 2 hole between 2006 and 2009. As one Yankee told me, “No hitter likes to hit in a spot in the order that he is not used to, hitting is all about comfort and continuity.’’ Nick Swisher, in his State of the Swish press conference before the game, also made mention of how difficult it is to move around in the batting order — highlighting how Cano’s switch to second was that much more of a team move. Cano was the leader of the Dominican Republic team that won the World Baseball Classic and he will need to supply the same role with the Yankees. Lead by example. Put the contract situation aside and produce. That is what matters.
Leader learning to clean up from No. 2 hole
New York Post | Apr 9