Robinson Cano has once again agreed to serve as American League captain for the Home Run Derby, and with the game in a National League park — and in New York — he shouldn’t face the same sort of hometown fury that came when he didn’t pick Billy Butler for last year’s Derby in Kansas City.
“Now that you’re in New York, you get to pick whoever you want,” Cano said. “Now I don’t have to pick David Wright because he’s on the other side. It’s fun. I always say, I’ve done it away twice. Now you do it at home where you have your crowd and the greatest fans in the world get a chance to see you swinging in the Home Run Derby.”
Did Cano actually enjoy being Home Run Derby captain last year?
“You’re not going to enjoy it,” he said. “You know everywhere you go, you get booed because fans — they don’t understand. Even the guys I picked, it’s not that I picked anybody because, oh, he’s Dominican or he’s doing this or that. Everybody was swinging good. It was tough, but now this year I’ve got the advantage that it’s in New York.”
Will Cano have his father pitch to him again?
“Oh, yes sir, why not?” he said. “We’re .500. One for two.”
Will he be booed this time?
“Well, hopefully not,” he said.
Will he pick Billy Butler?
“No chance,” he said, with a smile.
• Brett Gardner has been red hot — including AL Player of the Week last week — but even he welcomed yesterday’s off day. “I’m not ever going to complain about an off day,” he said. “We don’t get many. It was a much-needed off-day for me and for everybody.”
• Gardner and Cano have each played in 63 games this year (although Gardner hasn’t started all of those). “I think you can tell when you play every day,” Gardner said. “And then we had a doubleheader, we’ve had a coupe of stretches where we’ve played 16, 17 days in a row, so at times you feel great and at times you don’t feel as great. But we play every day, so nobody’s going to wait around for you to get better. So you do things away from the field and in the training room to make you feel healthy.”
• Welcome back to right field, Lyle Overbay. Of course, it’s a little bit bigger outfield here in Oakland than in New York. This will be Overbay’s fourth time in the outfield. “He’s three for three,” Girardi said. “I have seen him run the right direction every time the ball went up. So far, it’s been pretty good.”
• As you’ve seen, Kevin Youkilis is back in the lineup after sitting out Sunday’s game because of some lingering soreness in his back. “He feels great today,” Girardi said. “It’s probably good that he got the extra day built in on Monday. Him and Texy went at it pretty hard because before they got to us, they were playing. I know it wasn’t nine-inning games, but they were building up. The two days probably helped him.”
• It’s been a while since we’ve heard a “Texy” reference, hasn’t it? I don’t remember one any time soon.
• Michael Pineda will make his next rehab start on Friday, though no one seems to know whether it will be in Charleston or Trenton. “He was pretty good (on Sunday),” Girardi said. “Threw some good changeups and was pretty good. You want to build from his last start, continue to build this kid up. I’m very happy with his progress so far and the way he’s went about it. It’s been a long time since he’s pitched in the big leagues, but he’s went at it the right way.”
• Derek Jeter is doing extremely light baseball drills and will see his ankle specialist on Thursday in hopes of getting full clearance. Still early to have a timetable, though. “It’s hard to say,” Girardi said. “Because you don’t know where exactly he is when he is cleared compared to coming in for a normal spring training and saying six weeks. You know they can do everything at that point. We’ll just have to see how he moves and go from there.”
Associated Press photos