Out of respect for Griffey, Cano picks No. 22

December 12th, 2013

SEATTLE -- Robinson Cano has put up tremendous numbers over the course of his nine-year Major League career, but one number in question this week was what digits he'd wear on his jersey once he joined the Mariners.

That query was quickly answered when Seattle's new $240-million man hoisted a No. 22 jersey as he was introduced to the media at Safeco Field on Thursday after completing his physical and then officially signing his 10-year contract.

Cano wore No. 24 most of his Yankees' career, but that number belonged to one Ken Griffey Jr. in Seattle. And while "24" is not yet retired by the Mariners, that's more a function of time. The club's policy is that a player isn't eligible to have his number retired until six years after he's left the game, waiting until he's appeared on one ballot for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

While Randy Johnson and Ichiro Suzuki shared the same No. 51 in their Mariners' tenures, Cano said he hasn't asked Griffey about using his number.

"No, I would never talk to him about 24," Cano said. "He's a guy you have to show respect. If that was going to happen, it would have to come from him. We all know what he meant to this city and who he was and what kind of player. He's a future Hall of Famer. You don't go to a Hall of Famer and ask, 'Can I use your number?' You have to show him respect."

Cano wore No. 22 early in his career, but gave that up when Roger Clemens requested it after he signed with the Yankees in 2007. Cano went to 24 because it was the flip-side of 42, the retired number of Jackie Robinson, whom he was named after.

The Mariners have yet to retire a number in their club's history, outside of the MLB-mandated 42. But it's a pretty good bet that Griffey will receive that honor at some point after he becomes eligible in 2016.

And, yeah, that would eventually be a problem for Cano, given he's signed now with the Mariners through 2023.