On Wednesday night, the Yankees played their second game of a three game series against Tampa Bay. After taking the first game, the Yankees were looking for a repeat to guarantee a series win.
I got a call from my dad on Wednesday night during the top of the third inning. While we were both thrilled that the Yankee offense was beating up on Edwin Jackson and Carl Pavano was holding off the Rays, my dad had a burning question.
On the previous play, Pudge Rodriguez hit a ball that looked like it could possibly bounce foul, but ended up bouncing fair. There were two outs, and Cano was on second. Most players are taught in little league that on two outs you run hard. On the other end of the phone my dad asks me, "Can you please explain to me why when Cano got to third he slowed up to see where the ball bounced? Doesn't he know there are two outs and he should be running hard? If it was foul they would've called him back. How doesn't a major league player know that on two outs he's supposed to run hard?"
I laughed a little bit before I responded. I explained that I too thought it was strange that Cano held up at third when he should have been motoring home instead of trotting in to score the run. I didn't have an answer to my dad's question, except that sometimes Cano does things that make it seem as if he is not aware of what is going on in the game. My dad said that he needed to start being responsible for what he was doing. He's not a rookie and after getting a new contract from the Yankees in the off-season he needed to start playing like he was worth the $3 million he's getting paid this year.
That conversation got me thinking. While Cano is most definitely a talented player, he sometimes makes plays that make him look like he's being lazy or unfocused. Other times, he is brilliant with his glove and demontrates power with his bat. Some people in baseball have said that the departure of Larry Bowa who served as the Yankees' third base and infield coach for three seasons is to blame for Cano's lackluster season. Bowa was known to ride Cano if he botched an easy ground ball or didn't realize how many outs there were in an inning and forgot to run hard. TV cameras would catch Bowa yelling in Cano's face in the dugout or even out on the field, and it was known that the two spent countless hours together working on the fundamentals.
If you were to ask Joe Girardi if he feels Cano's play is suffering due to the absence of Larry Bowa he would reply with an imfatic "No". Girardi has been saying that the coaching staff and even some of the players are on Cano when his head appears not to be in the game.
There is a very good chance though that Bowa's absence is effecting Cano more than anyone would like to admit. I don't think Robinson Cano is the type of player that doesn't care or doesn't work hard, but I do think that he can get distracted easily. He knows that he can make plays that other players can't, and there is nothing wrong with being confident in his abilities. Yet, you will never see Derek Jeter make a play with a "Look what I can do" expression on his face and he is a gold glove short stop.
It seems that Cano needs to be brought back down to earth from time to time, and Wednesday night is a clear example of that. With the Yankees fighting for their lives there is no room for anyone on the team not to grind out every play especially a young guy like Robinson Cano. If the Yankees hope to really make a play for the Wild Card they're going to need all of their players, especially Cano to play their best. That may mean that his teammates have to drill it into his head that no matter what level of ball you're playing at you ALWAYS run hard when there are two outs.