Haniger to join MLB All-Star Tour in Japan
Cano expects to return to second base for start of 2019
SEATTLE -- There won't be much rest for Mitch Haniger this winter as the Mariners' right fielder said Sunday he's accepted an invitation to play for the MLB team in its November All-Star Tour in Japan.
The seven-game tour of exhibition games begins Nov. 8 against the Yomiuri Giants at the Tokyo Dome and runs through Nov. 14-15, with all games broadcast live on MLB Network.
MLB has already announced that Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina, Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez, Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich, Braves rookie standout Ronald Acuna Jr., Phillies teammates Rhys Hoskins and Carlos Santana, Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield and Dodgers infielder/outfielder Chris Taylor will be taking part.
It will be the first MLB All-Star Tour in Japan since 2014.
"It's something I have to take advantage of," Haniger said. "It's cool to be honored and be one of the guys going over to represent MLB."
The Mariners are opening their regular season in Tokyo as well against the A's next March 20-21.
"Having a couple days of down time to actually experience everything will be nice," Haniger said of the All-Star Tour. "I'll be a lot more focused [for the regular season games in March], so this will be nice to do the tourist stuff and see the country."
Cano expects to return to second
In the final six weeks after returning from his 80-game suspension, Robinson Cano split time at second base with Dee Gordon and also started 10 games at first base, two at third and two at designated hitter, but said that he expects to return to his natural position next year.
"Next year, it looks like I'll be back playing second base," Cano said after Sunday's season finale. "That's what I am. It was a situation that happened this year. I was playing other positions. But I feel right now I'm a second baseman."
Cano acknowledged the difficulty of dealing with a position change in his 14th season in the Majors.
"I'll be honest, it's hard," he said. "When you play your whole career at one position, then you have to change in the middle of the season, it was hard."
Cano acknowledged it was also difficult watching teammate Nelson Cruz possibly playing his last game with the club before becoming a free agent this offseason.
"You don't know if he's coming back or what's going to happen," Cano said. "But we all know what he means to the team, what kind of hitter he is and what he brings to the clubhouse. His energy, what he means to the young guys ... he's a great leader.
"If it was up to me, I'd have signed him three months ago."
• The Mariners final attendance of 2,300,162 -- an average of 28,397 a game -- marked their highest home total since 2008.
• Five Mariners pitchers combined to strike out nine batters in Sunday's 3-1 season finale victory over the Rangers, increasing their single-season strikeout record to 1,328. The previous record was 1,318 in 2016.