Robinson Cano’s two homers on Friday night gave him eight on the season, which is the second-highest total in the big leagues. He trails Ryan Braun, Jose Bautista and Alfonso Soriano, who each have nine homers.
Which is just one reason why Joe Girardi had no problem putting Cano in the cleanup spot in place of Alex Rodriguez, who got a scheduled day off on Saturday against Toronto.
“He did a tremendous job in the fourth spot last year,” the manager said of Cano, who hit .324 with seven homers and 28 RBI in the cleanup hole last season. “Robbie’s one of those guys you can hit anywhere and I believe he’s going to have success.”
Cano’s homered in five of his last seven home games and has at least one RBI in eight of his last ten. He’s hit safely in 17 of the last 18 games and is the only second baseman in the last 50 years to have eight homers before May 1 in consecutive seasons.
“Sometimes, he makes the game look very easy and that’s not just on the offensive end, that’s on the defensive end as well. And that’s a gift,” Girardi said. “Robbie has a gift that he’s learned how to harness and use very productively.”
Hitting coach Kevin Long predicted that Cano could hit 40 home runs in a season at some point in his career. Cano, who hit a career-high 29 homers last season, disagreed.
What’s Girardi’s take?
“I don’t think anything Robbie Cano did would surprise me,” he said. “I hate putting numbers out there because I always look at numbers as limitations, not expectations. But anything he does, I’m never shocked because he’s extremely talented. He plays the game very relaxed. He does have a lot of power. He gets in zones.
“When you look at Robbie’s home runs recently, they’ve just been line drives. He’s just been hitting the ball hard. And he happens to be strong enough that he can hit a line drive out of the ballpark. Not everyone can do that. I don’t know what the limit is on Robbie, but he looks great.”