'I feel like I'm 25': Cano joins Mets at camp

Expected to lead, 36-year-old honored to have Wright's former locker

February 17th, 2019

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The most pressing question surrounding , entering his first season with the Mets at age 36, is what kind of player he can be in his late 30s. In his 20s, he was a phenom, batting .308 with a .503 slugging percentage for the Yankees. Since then, he has fallen off only slightly, making four of his eight career All-Star Game appearances after his 30th birthday.

Still, the list of position players productive at age 36 is small. At 37, even smaller. Beyond that, infinitesimal. So it was worth noting that shortly after Cano showed up to the Mets' complex in Port St. Lucie for the first time, he stated: "I feel like I'm 25."

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"I always feel like that," Cano said. "I never feel like I'm 30. … I feel good, physically and mentally. For me, that's what matters as a player."

If the Mets plan on making any concessions to Cano's age, they aren't saying. While general manager Brodie Van Wagenen has noted that the Mets could use him at first base, Cano said the team hasn't approached him about that yet -- and he didn't sound like a man all that interested in changing positions. To the contrary, before serving an 80-game suspension last year for violating Major League Baseball's joint drug agreement, Cano had averaged 159 games per season over the previous 11 years, nearly all of them at second.

He doesn't expect anything to be different in Queens, and manager Mickey Callaway noted that the team would likely only use Cano at first in a pinch. Most days -- maybe every day -- he will be at second.

"As long as I feel good, for me, I love to play this game," Cano said. "As a young kid, you dream to play in the big leagues. So if I have a chance to go out and play every day, I would love to. I don't want to step back from that."

The Mets would love that too, assuming Cano proves worthy of the third spot in the lineup that Callaway has already bestowed upon him. While the Mets feature depth at second base -- , Jeff McNeil and can all play there -- they would prefer to use those players in other places.

Mostly, the Mets would like Cano to make good on his intention of "being back in the playoffs," which he missed over the half-decade he spent in Seattle after making it seven times in his first eight years in the Bronx. They are also counting on Cano to be a clubhouse leader, replacing the void left by captain David Wright. It wasn't by accident that the Mets issued Wright's longtime spring locker to Cano, understanding the effect he can have on his teammates.

"Nobody is going to replace David Wright in this organization," Cano said. "We all know what he did. It was sad that he had to end his career that way. … I feel special that I get to have his locker. 

"Am I going to go out and do my best and give everything I've got? Yes, I will. I don't like to pressure myself that I have to go out and be that guy. But I will do my best and do everything I can to help the team compete and help the team to win a game."