Cano goes 1-for-4 in return from suspension

August 14th, 2018

OAKLAND -- As met with the media three hours before game time on Tuesday after rejoining his ballclub following an 80-game suspension, a line of teammates formed at the back of the room to support the eight-time All-Star.
Cano returning to the Mariners is a big deal and anybody wondering about the reaction of his team needed only to see , , Dee Gordon, , Mike Zunino, , and lined shoulder to shoulder in the interview room at Oakland Coliseum.
"It means a lot to me," said Cano, who went 1-for-4 in the Mariners' 3-2 loss to the A's. "It's always meant a lot to see the way teammates support. I really appreciate this. I didn't expect this, but thank you guys."
While the pitchers were in a meeting, most of the club's position players -- including several who could be losing playing time or need to move positions in order to accommodate Cano's return -- made sure he knew they were there.
"We just wanted to show him that we all make mistakes, myself included, but you're not here alone," said Gordon, who served a similar suspension himself in 2016 while with the Marlins. "Because those 80 days are really, really dark and a long time. They seem like they're never going to end."
But Cano's suspension ended Tuesday and he was back in the lineup, albeit at first base in place of Healy now that Gordon became entrenched at second base during Cano's absence. Cano also was batting second instead of his normal third, as the club has hit well in the five games since moving Mitch Haniger to a leadoff role and putting Segura third.
"It's good with me," Cano said of the changes. "It's not about myself. It's about the team and helping the team keep winning games and make it to the playoffs. I'll go out and do my best. No matter where they need me, I'll be ready for it."
The Mariners optioned right-handed reliever to Triple-A Tacoma to open a spot for Cano and right-handed reliever was transferred to the 60-day disabled list to open a spot on the 40-man roster. Tuivailala is facing surgery to repair a right Achilles tendon injury and will be out for the remainder of the season.
Cano will split time at first base with Healy over the final seven weeks of the regular season, and he could be used to occasionally give third baseman and designated hitter Cruz a day off. Cano is not eligible to play in the postseason, per MLB's rules on positive drug tests.
The 35-year-old played two games at first base, one at second, one at third and one at DH during five Minor League contests last week with Tacoma and Class A Short-Season Everett while batting .389 (7-for-18) with one double, two home runs and six RBIs.
The Mariners were 23-17 when Cano was suspended in mid-May and went 46-34 during his absence, the same winning percentage in twice as many games. Seattle sits 2 1/2 games back of the A's in the chase for the American League's second Wild Card spot. "I have to give the guys a lot of credit," Cano said. "They've played great. That was my goal, to be ready when I got back to be able to contribute and help this team win. We're all on the same page from the beginning of Spring Training. We want to make the playoffs. Knowing I'm not going to play, but I want to help the team make the playoffs."
Prior to his suspension, Cano appeared in 39 games this season, batting .287 with 24 runs, 10 doubles, four home runs, 23 RBIs and a team-leading .385 on-base percentage. Since making his Major League debut on May 3, 2005, with the Yankees, he has appeared in 2,037 games, the second most of any player in that span.
Cano has five years remaining on the 10-year, $240 million contract he signed with Seattle after nine seasons with the Yankees. He said he's not going to worry about negative fan reaction or anything else besides what happens on the field, drawing on his experience from going back to New York after he signed with Seattle.
"That is something that won't bother me," he said. "They have the right to say whatever they want. It's on me to not focus on them and get my mind away from the game. My goal is the team and helping to win games, not focus on people are saying, regardless, even before this."