Cano on clutch HR: 'I know what I can do'

Veteran's game-winner gets his second half off to a promising start

July 14th, 2019

MIAMI -- Where has ’s power gone?

It’s a question that was posed to Mets manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday afternoon, before his team's game against the Marlins. The 15-year veteran, with 315 career home runs and an .842 OPS to his name, entered Saturday night's contest with just four dingers in 66 games in 2019.

Callaway attributed Cano’s struggles to inconsistency putting the barrel on the ball. But New York’s skipper wasn’t worried because in batting practice, Cano has been getting out in front and lifting pitches into the upper deck.

And Cano did just that when it counted, as he knocked the go-ahead two-run shot out of the park in the eighth inning of the Mets’ 4-2 victory at Marlins Park.

“Because I knew he was going to hit a bomb tonight,” Callaway quipped about his lack of concern. “You guys didn’t realize that? Power can come and go. Power's all about squaring the ball up as many times as possible.”

According to Statcast, Cano sent reliever Nick Anderson’s curveball a projected 391 feet to right field, with an exit velocity of 102.3 mph and a 29-degree launch angle. That classifies the homer as a barreled ball. Cano's 6.0 barrel percentage for the season is his lowest since 2015.

Cano entered Saturday with a .218/.283/.291 slash line, no homers and a .574 OPS with men on base this season. He had been hitless in his first three-at-bats on Saturday night. Needless to say, the powerful swing was a welcome moment for the eight-time All-Star, who made sure to do his signature bat drop.

“As a player, as a teammate, you just want to be successful in a situation like that,” Cano said. “You want to help your starter, you want to help the team to win games. That’s my job. That’s why we’re here.”

And that’s why the Mets acquired Cano during the offseason in a blockbuster trade with the Mariners. But things haven’t gone quite as planned.

In mid-May, Cano drew heat for an apparent lack of hustle on a double play against the Marlins in Miami before being benched. He was sidelined twice with left quad injuries. Not to mention Cano’s drastic home-road splits (.318/.388/.398 slash line with a .785 OPS at home as opposed to .196/.226/.335 with a .561 OPS on the road) that led to his lower placement in Saturday’s batting order for a club with the second-worst record in the National League.

But Cano said he has been around this game -- and been successful in it -- long enough to keep the same approach. He had no thoughts of changing things up, but rather just to continue working hard.

“People are going to question when you’re not doing good, even when you’re younger, even if you’re older,” Cano said. “It’s easy to say, 'Robbie's older now,' because I’m 36 years old. … I just close my ear to those negative comments. I know what I can do, I know how I feel.”

Added , who also benefited from the reshuffled lineup by hitting a two-run homer of his own from the No. 2 spot: “Robbie, he's always happy. He’s always the same guy no matter what’s going on. He’s not too proud to make fun of himself. He’s a good guy to have in the clubhouse. He does a good job of leading these young guys, leading me. He’s a good role model. I think he’s done a good job working through some things as well. Obviously, he came up big for us with the big home run tonight.”

Was a pride factor involved, Callaway was asked after Cano’s 14th career go-ahead homer in the eighth inning or later (the last time Cano did it was Aug. 20, 2018)?

“There's no doubt,” Callaway said. “You don’t put up a Hall of Fame career without having pride in yourself and wanting to prove people, or prove to people, that you’re one of the best. There’s no doubt he has that in him.”