Cano is an excellent player, the best player on the Yankees. He has the sweetest swing on the team, a swing that he perfects in early afternoon sessions with hitting coach Kevin Long. He has the most dependable glove on the team, too, a second baseman who plays with panache and who has a powerful arm that makes other infielders envious.Here's some visual evidence of Cano's laziness, and as the announcers correctly point out this clip, Robbie has got to get down and at least knock down the ball there. If he does, who knows, maybe the Yankees actually win the game. I'm sure he's not lying about the injury, but even a hurt he could easily have gotten on the ground for that one.
But Cano, for all of his talents, was the central figure in two plays that hurt the Yankees in Monday’s 4-3 loss to the Rays. After Cano lashed a low liner to third in the eighth, he took one step out of the batter’s box and stopped running. While that can happen to any batter, it shouldn’t happen. It also happens too often with Cano, whether it’s a low liner to third or a slow roller to second.
Once Cano stopped, he was doomed. Elliott Johnson, who isn’t Brooks Robinson, didn’t catch the liner. He dropped it, retrieved it and then made an errant throw to first. But Johnson still managed to get the out when first baseman Carlos Pena moved up the line to collect the ball and tag Cano. Failing to run to first is always a mistake, but Cano’s actions were magnified because he would have been safe if he didn’t hesitate.
“That happens,” said manager Joe Girardi. “Guys think a line drive is caught and they kind of freeze.”
A few minutes later, Cano was in the forefront of another play that exasperated the Yankees. With a runner on second and two outs, Chris Gimenez tapped a grounder to the second base hole. Cano moved toward his left to field the ball, but it somehow trickled under his golden glove. Cano didn’t dive. He stretched for the ball and missed it by a few inches. Cano later said that he felt something in his hip “grab” and that impacted his pursuit of the ball.
“I couldn’t bend over,” Cano told reporters. “It was grabbing.”
While it is difficult to criticize a player who may have injured himself on a play, Cano had to figure out a way to smother that ball, keep it in the infield and prevent the go-ahead run from scoring. Attend any Little League game in any city and, inevitably, you will hear a coach yelling, “Knock it down infielders.” The Yankees wanted Cano to knock the ball down and keep the score tied, 3-3, but he didn’t succeed.
“I thought he was going to get there,” Girardi said. “Unfortunately, he didn’t and that’s why we lost.”
I'm a big Cano fan, but this is one area of his game that drives me nuts. The sad part is that this is is nothing new for Robbie. We've all heard people call him lazy over the years, and it's becoming harder... well, nearly impossible to defend at this point. Maybe Cano will wake up one of these days and realize he can't just survive on talent alone.