Updates from Wednesday, May 7
Cano responded to Rivera's jabs, according to ESPN.com:
"Everybody has a different opinion. That's his opinion and I have to respect his opinion," Cano said before Tuesday night's game against the Oakland Athletics. "I'm not going to go too far into this. That's the only thing that I can say. My focus right now is this team.
"I'm here, we're winning," Cano said. "I was over there already and now I'm here and now I'm focused on the team. I'm going to be excited for my teammates."
Cano, who has played at least 159 games in each of the past seven years, said he will let those numbers provide all the necessary information.
"Everybody knows I play 160 games," Cano said. "How does Mariano feel? I respect that and I'm always going to have respect for him, a guy that I spent nine years with and for me is always going to be the best closer. That's how I feel."
Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano received a chilly reception during his recent return to Yankee Stadium, but comments courtesy of a New York Yankees legend and former teammate may sting even more.
Future Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera's new book, "The Closer," is set to hit shelves on Tuesday, and among the biggest revelations involved is his contention that Cano doesn't quite measure up to Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia.
According to ESPN.com via the New York Daily News, Rivera praised Cano's talent but questioned his motivation.
This guy has so much talent I don't know where to start. ... 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.
Cano, who signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the M's during the offseason, was often criticized by fans and media members for a perceived lack of hustle while with the Yankees. There were times when Cano didn't run out ground balls to the best of his ability, and his smoothness in the field was sometimes viewed as laziness or indifference.
Conversely, Rivera believes that Pedroia's effort level is unmatched at the second base position.
Nobody plays harder, gives more, wants to win more. He comes at you hard for 27 outs. It's a special thing to see. If I have to win one game, I'd have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman.
Rivera is one of the most respected players the sport of baseball has ever seen, so it is no surprise that his comments are already making waves. Rivera generally isn't one to criticize players publicly, so his indictment of Cano took Mike Murabito of MLB.com by surprise:
Surprising to say the least. Very un-Rivera like, not to hold teammates accountable---but to make it publicly known. http://t.co/Mo82tVLscZ— Mike Murabito (@mikemurabito) May 6, 2014
Mo played alongside Cano in The Bronx for nine years, so he was able to witness Cano's talent on a daily basis. Rivera was never in the same clubhouse with Pedroia aside from some All-Star Games, but he saw plenty of the scrappy competitor during the Yanks' many battles with the rival Red Sox.
The Cano vs. Pedroia debate has been a main talking point in Major League Baseball over the past several years, and Rivera's endorsement of Pedroia is obviously a huge feather in his cap.
Who is a better all-around second baseman?
There is no doubt that Cano and Pedroia are two of the best that baseball has to offer, as they both have career batting averages over .300 and have combined for nine All-Star appearances. Perhaps the one thing that can truly separate them, as Rivera suggests, is the will to win.
Cano is one of the most naturally gifted players in the league, which is why Seattle was willing to sign him to such a massive deal. If he came across as a player who lacked passion in the eyes of one of the greatest competitors of all time, though, then perhaps it is time for Cano to make some changes.
Rivera isn't a guy who likes to cause a stir or create controversy, so he must obviously feel very strongly about Cano's shortcomings.
If Cano takes Rivera's words and uses them as motivation, maybe he can prove his former teammate wrong and break the hearts of Yankees fans in the process. Until then, however, he'll likely continue to be viewed as one of the game's great talents, but not one of its great winners.
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