Joe Girardi says he’s going to miss Robinson Cano. And that Cano’s bat will be hard to replace. And that it’s hard to blame Cano for taking a 10-year deal worth $240 million. These were things everyone was expecting to hear from the Yankees manager. It might have come as a mild surprise that Girardi basically confirmed and went on to discuss a New York Post report that Cano was unhappy about being asked to bat second last season.
“He didn’t tell me he was unhappy,” Girardi said. “But there were things that I heard, and I sat down and talked to him. And he was like, OK, whatever you need.”
With the Yankees lineup depleted by well-publicized injuries, Cano hit second fairly regularly in the first two and a half months of the season. At the time, Vernon Wells was easily the Yankees best right-handed hitter, and batting Cano second — with Wells third — was a way of maximizing Cano’s at-bats while using Wells to break up a string of lefties (Gardner, Cano, Hafner, Overbay, and even Granderson for a while).
“There were discussions with a number of my hitters about, I’m going to have to ask you to do some things that you’re not used to doing,” Girardi said. “That’s the bottom line. I talked to Robbie, and I told Robbie, ‘When I can get you back to third, I’ll get you back to third. But right now, I think you hitting second gives us the best chance to win.’ It wasn’t ideal, but it wasn’t ideal all the injuries we had last year, and we had to make some adjustments. And players, they want to hit in those certain spots. I understand that.”
Girardi essentially downplayed Cano’s frustrations, but he did acknowledge that they were real and addressed at some point.
“I felt (batting Cano second) gave us the best chance to win,” Girardi said. “And that’s the reason I did it.”