Cano singles in first rehab game at Triple-A

Mariners infielder 'just happy to be back on the field'

August 7th, 2018

TACOMA, Wash. -- In his first professional at-bat since May 13, sliced a line-drive single to left field.

"Just happy to be back on the field," Cano said. "The past few months I've just been waiting for this day, and I'm happy that everything went good today."

Cano played in his first rehab game Monday night with Triple-A Tacoma as he finishes out an 80-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and two groundouts to shortstop, and played eight innings of error-free defense at first base.

He'll play Tuesday's 11:35 a.m. PT game in Tacoma as the designated hitter before taking the day off Wednesday and then playing four games at Class A Everett, where he'll likely see some time at second and third base as well as first. He's eligible to return to the big leagues on Aug. 14.

"I liked what I saw," Rainiers manager Pat Listach said. "This guy's a pro, to be honest. I didn't expect anything different. … It seems like he could play in the big leagues right now."

Cano spent a month in the Dominican Republic working out at his father's baseball facility. He returned to Seattle last week and spent the past few days hitting at Safeco Field and taking ground balls from infield coach Manny Acta before seeing his first game action Monday.

"From almost 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., it was like the longest day of my life," Cano said. "I was just waiting for that moment to go out and see how it's going to be for the first time playing first base."

Listach said the most impressive play Cano made was a fronthand pick, making note of how much more difficult that play is for a first baseman than a backhand one. Cano also booted a liner that was deemed a single.

"It was a bullet," Listach said. "It was ruled a hit, which rightfully it was. Can he make that play? Probably. But do I expect any first baseman to make it every time? No."

Cano had already gotten advice from other first basemen such as and -- the latter lent Cano a first-baseman's glove. Pujols told Cano the throws were the hardest part, while Encarnacion warned Cano about being late covering the bag.

"It's not easy to switch positions in the middle of the season," Cano said. "But it's not about myself, it's about the team, so I will do whatever and just get ready down here."

The Mariners initially played very well following Cano's suspension, but have weathered a recent slowdown due to an offense that scored the fewest runs in baseball in July. Cano said it has been hard for him to watch his team, knowing he could have helped if he were able.

At the same time, he expressed excitement over getting back into a playoff chase. The Mariners pulled back within two games of the idle Athletics in the hunt for the second American League Wild Card with a 4-3, 12-inning victory over the host Rangers on Monday night.

"I always love the big situations, and I'm happy, because that tells you that we're playing for something," Cano said. "I hope the guys -- they won tonight -- keep winning, and when I get up there we can keep fighting."

Tacoma also won Monday, 3-2, on a walk-off, two-run double by in the 10th inning.