Mariners give Cano warm greeting

PEORIA, Ariz. — Robinson Cano balanced on one leg and stretched his arm, keeping in unison with the rest of the Mariners during their pre-workout stretch.

Click, click, click.

Fans wearing his No. 22 focused their smartphones. Photographers' lenses followed him across the field from drill to drill.

The second baseman drew a crowd and was the center of attention for his first workout with Seattle on Tuesday. The former Yankee might as well get used to it.

"Even more fun than what I thought," Cano said afterward. "Being embraced by teammates, coaching staff, the manager, the front office; I feel like I'm part of this team right away. Not going to take long to get used to this uniform."

Seattle fans have already warmed to him.

About 200 showed up at the Mariners' spring complex to watch Cano do some stretching, throwing and fielding. Cano got a 10-year, $240 million deal to be the centerpiece of their rebuilding.

On his first day, the fans followed him from field to field.

"There's a lot more people than previous years," said Matt Massot, 18, of Seattle, who wore a Cano shirt to his fourth spring training. "When you add Robinson Cano, it can't get any more exciting."

The Mariners went 71-91 last season, 25 games behind Oakland in the AL West. First-year manager Lloyd McClendon is trying to raise expectations.

"One of the messages that I'm trying to send to my players is we don't have to take a backseat to anybody, and that includes the New York Yankees or anybody else," he said.

McClendon also got in some shots at Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long, who had criticized Cano for his unwillingness to run out routine ground balls.

"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 (ticked) off, and I'm sure Joe (Girardi) feels the same way."

CUBAN BRAWL: A bench-clearing brawl in which a ballplayer hit a rival in the face with a bat disgusted sports fans and had pundits bemoaning the state of Cuba's national sport. The melee between Matanzas and Villa Clara, the top teams in the standings, was broadcast live on national television to shocked viewers Monday night.

After a seventh-inning home run by Matanzas catcher Eriel Sanchez off right-hander Freddy Asiel Alvarez, Alvarez beaned Yasiel Santoya, who was benched by manager Victor Mesa as a precaution.

Two batters later Alvarez came in high-and-tight on Victor Victor Mesa, plunking the coach's son in the upper arm.

Video shows Matanzas' Demis Valdes charging the mound brandishing a wooden bat at Alvarez, who hurls his glove. Valdes takes a vicious right-handed cut, and the backswing catches Villa Clara captain and first baseman Ramon Lunar in the face, knocking him down. Lunar was hospitalized overnight for observation, but not seriously injured.

Valdes was suspended for a year Tuesday night. The Cuban Baseball Federation's disciplinary committee also ordered a suspension for Alvarez, but no length was given.

BRAVES: First baseman Mat Gamel, who reinjured his surgically repaired right knee last week, was released.

INDIANS: Right-hander Justin Masterson agreed to a one-year deal worth $9,762,500, avoiding arbitration.

ORIOLES: South Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon said he hopes to be in the starting rotation. Yoon, 27, who signed a three-year contract Monday, will have to compete for a spot in the suddenly competitive staff after the signing of right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.

RANGERS: Infielder Jurickson Profar was shut down because of a sore shoulder that the team has described as mild tendinitis.

Mariners give Cano warm greeting 02/18/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 18, 2014 9:32pm]

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