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New York Yankees Hitting Coach Kevin Long Didn’t Appreciate Robinson Cano’s Lack of Hustle

February 17th, 2014 at 1:48 PM
By Doug Rush

Ever since departing from the New York Yankees to sign a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Seattle Mariners, Robinson Cano has taken a beating from the fans all over that he left 3,000 miles behind.

People feel that instead of playing for championships, a legacy and maybe a chance for the Hall of Fame, he chose to pursue the money and did so at the cost of playing on a weaker lineup and less opportunities to play in October baseball.

But the one knock on Cano even when he was with the Yankees was his apparent lack of hustle, especially running ground balls out and running to first base; something that grew tired of people in the Yankee organization and the coaching staff. At the start of spring training, Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long talked about how Cano's lack of hustle and sense of urgency got to everyone when he was with the team and how it bothered him.

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

Long even went further to explain how Cano had become a leader of the team during his final years on the Yankees and had taken great strides to improve his swing, become a more piatient hitter and find other ways to improve his game. But the fact that he didn't hustle down the line and let it continue despite being talked to on several occassions really got to the coaches, Long in particular, especially since he had taken so much time to work and help Cano over the years.

"We all talked to him. 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. It's too bad because Robbie cared a lot. By his last year here he was becoming a leader in the clubhouse.  But he just wouldn't make that choice to run hard all the time. He might say his legs didn't feel good, or he was playing every day and needed to save his energy. To me there was no acceptable answer."

Aside from the lack of hustle, Cano was still viewed as the teams best player and is considered to be the best second basemen in all of baseball and cashed in on his free agency with the help of his agent, Jay-Z. But playing in Safeco Field can wear on a hitter, as it is a spacious ballpark that benefits a pitcher more so than a hitter (Adrian Beltre and Jason Bay can attest to that notion) and Cano's power numbers that played well in Yankee Stadium could get sapped playing in Seattle and it could be a matter of time where the losing effect gets to Cano and he doesn't hustle down the line and takes a negative attitude in Seattle.

The only thing with that in 2014 is that it is no longer the Yankees problem, as Brian Roberts is penciled in to be their new second basemen, and Cano's lack of hustle has become Seattle's $240 million problem.

Photo credit: Keith Allison / Foter / CC BY-SA

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Tags: Baseball, Kevin Long, MLB, New York, New York Yankees, Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners

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