NEW YORK – This was no television skit. The boos were real, and they were loud and prolonged. They started before Robinson Cano’s name was even announced for his first at-bat at Yankee Stadium as a Mariner and they grew louder and more intense as he stepped in the batter’s box.
Welcome back, Robinson, you were missed.
To his credit, Cano flashed a bit of a smile. He knew it was coming and prepared himself for it.
His expression didn’t change when he struck out moments later and the crowd cheered wildly.
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It was a stark contrast to his skit on “The Tonight Show” on Monday where fans booed a cardboard cutout of him and then he appeared from behind it. Those fans were quick to hug him and welcome him home.
That was not the case Tuesday night.
“That was a lot of fun,” he said of the skit. “I had fun with it. I had a great experience. Like I said earlier, I know I’m not a Yankee anymore and I have to understand the fans. They aren’t going to cheer for you here. They are going to boo you because you are on the opposite team.”
Well, it goes a little beyond that. They felt Cano abandoned them for the lure of more money, taking the Mariners’ 10-year, $240 million contract over the seven-year, $175 million deal the Yankees were offering.
It might be why fans were chanting, “You sold out! You sold out!” at Cano in the bottom of the first inning.
“The last thing they want to see is for you to come here and do well,” he said. “I have to understand that. I had a lot of fun when they saw me come out from behind there and their reactions. I still got a lot of love for these fans and respect.”
That might change after three games at Yankee Stadium.
Before the game Tuesday, the Mariners held a news conference for Cano to deal with a media contingent of more than 100, which wanted to talk to him about his return to the city and stadium where he spent the past nine major-league seasons.
Iwakuma to pitch on Friday?
Hisashi Iwakuma is with the team and threw a bullpen session Tuesday. Will he pitch Friday in Houston?
“He’ll pitch somewhere on Friday,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, chuckling. “I’m not sure where yet.”
Iwakuma doesn’t know where it will be, either. All signs point to him starting Friday night in Houston. But McClendon isn’t ready to list him as the starter.
“I’m prepared to go on Friday, but they haven’t told me anything yet,” Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki.
• Taijuan Walker (shoulder impingement) played catch Monday, and McClendon said everything went fine. James Paxton (strained latissmus dorsi) also is still throwing and has experienced no setbacks.
• Logan Morrison still is feeling discomfort in his sore hamstring. So hope of going out on a rehab assignment has been tempered. “He’s not at full-bore,” McClendon said.
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373