Robinson Cano hit three home runs on Sunday against the Cubs providing further evidence that he is fully healthy after battling a sports hernia injury last season.
MESA, Ariz. — It wasn’t just that Robinson Cano hit three home runs Sunday that made a statement that he’s back, but where they went — one to right field, one to left and one to center.
“To be able to hit it to left field, that’s something that tells me that (I) feel good and that I’m healthy,’’ Cano said after going 4-4 with seven runs batted in to lead the Mariners to a 12-9 Cactus League win over the Cubs Sunday at Sloan Park.
Cano, 33, never really was healthy last year in his second season as a Mariner, battling a sports hernia injury that eventually required surgery and a month-long rehab in Philadelphia.
And the hope that it was that injury, and not possibly the first signs of advancing age, that led to a somewhat disappointing 2015 season for Cano seems reinforced with every day of spring training.
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Cano’s three home runs Sunday gave him six for the spring with a .370 average and an .848 slugging percentage.
“He feels really good,’’ manager Scott Servais said. “Really all spring, when we got in camp he was healthy. He’s got that bounce in his step and this guy is out to prove something and it’s a good thing I’m part of it and can watch it every day. It’s been fun to see so far.’’
Cano’s onslaught Sunday started with a home run pulled to right on an 0-2 pitch in the first inning off Chicago starter Jason Hammel.
Cano then clubbed one to left field the next inning, again off Hammel, a shot that showed he can again generate the kind of power to the opposite field that lets him know he’s back to the form that helped him earn the 10-year, $240 million contract he signed with Seattle prior to the 2014 season.
“I just feel different now that I am able to use my hip,’’ he said after the game. “When I’m able to use my hip it’s easier for me to stay back and be able to swing at the pitch I’m looking for and not have to cheat. That pitch inside last year I remember I couldn’t hit that ball.’’
Cano walked to lead off the fifth, eventually coming around to score, a sequence that impressed Servais.
“Good players, they can hit two home runs,” he said. “Great players when they feel it they keep it rolling, they don’t give away at-bats. And he didn’t all day which is great to see.”
Cano singled in the sixth, reaching third on single two batters later. That also was a good sign for Cano, who said he night not have made it to third as easily on such a play last year because of various injuries.
Cano homered again in the eighth, an at-bat when he appeared to be swinging for the fences.
Servais recalled later that Cano had been challenged by a spectator sitting behind the Mariners dugout.
“A fan yelled at him, ‘You hit one to right, you hit one to left. Let me see you hit one to center,’ ’’ Servais said. “And he did. A great day for him.’’
Said Cano: “It feels good to be able to play the game on the level you want.’’
He’s also shown that on the field, displaying the kind of range that was difficult a year ago.
“It’s a lot different,’’ he said. “I remember last year, ground balls to the side where hard for me to get there and now I’m able to get to those.’’
He said his goal this spring was to do two simple things — “feel good and stay healthy.’’
After what Cano did Sunday, the April 4 opener at Texas can’t come quick enough.