Lloyd McClendon: Talk 'surprising'

PEORIA, Ariz. -- New Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said Tuesday that Kevin Long should keep his opinions to himself, two days after the New York Yankees hitting coach criticized second baseman Robinson Cano for his unwillingness to run out routine ground balls while in the Bronx.

McClendon said Long overstepped his bounds with his critique of Cano's effort with New York and defended the Mariners' prized offseason free-agent acquisition.

"Last time I checked, I didn't know that Kevin Long was the spokesman for the New York Yankees," McClendon told ESPN.com. "That was a little surprising. I was a little pissed off, and I'm sure Joe [Girardi] feels the same way. He's concerned with his team and what they're doing, not what the Seattle Mariners players are doing.

"I'm a little surprised that Kevin Long is the spokesman for the New York Yankees. I wonder if he had any problems with Robbie when he wrote that book ["Cage Rat"] proclaiming himself as the guru of hitting."

Long responded to the criticism later Tuesday.

"That's too bad," he said. "I don't consider myself the spokesman for the Yankees. If you look at all the good things that were written about Robinson you would understand there was no malicious meaning behind any of it. If he wants to speak publicly like that, that is up to him. That is the way he interpreted it. I'm not going to get in a media war with Lloyd McClendon; he'd probably win that anyway.

"There were so many good parts, but it basically was, if anyone looks at it they are going to see that Robinson doesn't sprint down to first. I think if anyone puts a clock on him would realize that. That's it. Other than, this guy is a tremendous human being, tremendous character guy."

In an interview with the New York Daily News published Sunday, Long said he was proud of how hard Cano worked to overcome flaws in his game and turn himself into a great all-around player. In nine seasons with the Yankees, Cano hit .309, made five All-Star teams and won two Gold Gloves.

He parlayed his success into a 10-year, $240 million contract with Seattle in the offseason.

Long said Cano resisted attempts by him and others in the New York organization to consistently run harder to first base. He said Cano would tell him that his legs didn't feel good or that he needed to conserve his energy to play every day.

"If somebody told me I was a dog, I'd have to fix that," Long told the Daily News. "When you choose not to, you leave yourself open to taking heat, and that's your fault. For whatever reason, Robbie chose not to.

"I'm pretty sure [Derek] Jeter talked to him a number of times. Even if you run at 80 percent, no one's going to say anything. But when you jog down the line, even if it doesn't come into play 98 percent of the time, it creates a perception."

Cano, who met the media Tuesday as he joined the Mariners for their first full-squad workout, declined comment on Long's assessment.

Durability never has been a question for Cano, who has played 159 to 161 games every year since 2007.

McClendon said he doesn't feel a need to address the hustle issue with Cano, who took part in the Mariners' first full-squad workout Tuesday.

"I understand," McClendon said. "I get it. I was a major league player. There are times when you hit balls and you're frustrated as hell and you don't give it 100 percent. As long as you don't dog it down the line, what's the difference between 65 and 85 percent? Just run down the line. Sometimes that stuff is blown out of proportion.

"To me, the most important thing is the guy goes out there for 160 games a year, he hits .330, he drives in over 100 runs and he hits 25 to 30 home runs. I just need Robinson to be Robinson. Like all the rest of my guys know, just don't dog it. Am I expecting you to give me 110 percent down the baseline every night? No. I'm expecting you to give me a good effort."

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he has no plans to talk to Long about his comments, but he was a little taken aback by them.

"I was surprised," Cashman said.

"I never had an issue with Robbie. He played every day. He played nearly every inning and he performed."

Information from ESPNNewYork.com's Andrew Marchand was used in this report.