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Cano may split 2B duties with Dee upon return

Mariners GM: Gordon 'is going to have to play second base as we come down the stretch'
MLB.com @DKramer_

When Robinson Cano returns from his 80-game suspension for a violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Agreement, his full-time job at second base may not be waiting for him.

According to a report from ESPN.com, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said that -- because of the Mariners' ascent into first place in the American League West, Dee Gordon's strong play since moving to second from center field and Cano's ineligibility for postseason play -- Cano's claim on the everyday job might not be a lock.

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When Robinson Cano returns from his 80-game suspension for a violation of Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Agreement, his full-time job at second base may not be waiting for him.

According to a report from ESPN.com, Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said that -- because of the Mariners' ascent into first place in the American League West, Dee Gordon's strong play since moving to second from center field and Cano's ineligibility for postseason play -- Cano's claim on the everyday job might not be a lock.

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"We have a pretty good idea of what we want to do, but a lot of it is going to be dictated by where we are in the standings," Dipoto told ESPN.com. "As versatile and athletic as Dee is, it's not that easy to go play center field for a month and a half and then say, 'Oh, by the way, you're going to go play second base in the biggest game of your career when you just haven't been out there.' It's going to take some juggling and we'll have to figure out a way.

"That could allow for a time-share, so to speak, where we keep everybody sharp. But we do know Dee is going to have to play second base as we come down the stretch. Because if we want to be in the postseason -- which we do -- then we know who our second baseman is going to be. And it's going to be Dee Gordon."

Video: SEA@TB: Gordon steps on bag, fires to first for 2

Cano's suspension was handed down on May 15. The eight-time All-Star is eligible to return on Aug. 14 during a series in Oakland. He was hitting .287/.385/.441 with four homers and 23 RBIs over 39 games at the time of his sanction.

Cano is in the fifth season of a 10-year, $240 million deal, and will lose more than $11 million due to his suspension. In an economical fashion, the Mariners moved Gordon to second -- where he was a Gold Glove Award winner with the Marlins in 2015 -- and acquired outfielder Denard Span and reliever Alex Colome via trade from the Rays. Depending on how the Mariners stand at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, the club could pursue more additions in its attempt to snap the Majors' longest postseason drought, currently at 16 seasons.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

Seattle Mariners, Robinson Cano