OAKLAND, Calif. — After being serenaded by boos and catcalls for a three-game series at Yankee Stadium last week, Robinson Cano thought the worst was over.
But on Tuesday, he awoke in the Bay Area to find that he was still making headlines back in New York City.
The New York Daily News released excerpts of Mariano Rivera’s new book “Closer,” which was co-authored by Daily News writer Wayne Coffey.
There were a few highly critical passages about Cano and his effort level compared to Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
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Rivera questioned Cano’s desire to be great in the book:
“This guy has so much talent I don’t know where to start,” he wrote. “There is no doubt that he is a Hall-of-Fame caliber (player). It’s just a question of whether he finds the drive you need to get there. I don’t think Robby burns to be the best … You don’t see that red-hot passion in him that you see in most elite players.”
After writing that Pedroia was his favorite second baseman and lauding his effort and hustle, he also wrote this:
“If I have to win one game, I’d have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman.”
This isn’t the first time Cano’s effort level has been questioned by his former team. Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long made some critical statements to the New York papers this spring.
Manager Lloyd McClendon didn’t think the easy grace with which Cano plays the game should be a detractor of his effort level.
“The last nine years he’s been the best second baseman in baseball – offensively and defensively,” McClendon said. “The awards and the numbers back it up. You want to see a guy with passion? I think when you play 162 games a year and you don’t want to come out of the lineup, I think you have some pretty good passion for the game of baseball.”
Cano arrived in the clubhouse at O.co Coliseum knowing that he’d be asked about Rivera’s comments. He was careful with his responses.
“Everybody has a different opinion,” he said. “You have to respect everyone. That’s his opinion and I have to respect his opinion.”
Did the comment hurt coming from a teammate?
“I don’t have a comment,” he said. “I don’t want to go too far on this. That’s the only thing I can say.”
Cano was apologetic after saying he didn’t have a comment following another question.
“I hope you guys understand why,” he said. “My focus is this team. I’m here. We’re winning. That’s about it. I was over there already. Now I’m here. Now I’m focused on my team. I don’t want to be a distraction for my teammates.”
When told that his manager said playing 160 games every year is a sign of his passion, Cano smiled a little but wouldn’t say much more.
“Everybody knows that I play 160 games,” he said. “I’m not going to comment too far on this. That’s how Mariano feels, then I’m going to respect that. I have respect for him. I spent nine years with him. For me, he’s always going to be the greatest closer. That’s how I feel.”