After former New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera criticized his former teammate and now Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, the 31-year-old responded in a classy way to the now public remarks from The Sandman.
In his new book, "The Closer," Rivera questioned Cano's drive and desire to win after playing nine seasons with the second baseman, and even went as far as to say he would choose rival second baseman Dustin Pedroia of the Boston Red Sox if he had to pick one to play with in a big game.
On Tuesday, Cano shared his thoughts on the controversial statements made by the greatest closer of all time, courtesy of ESPNNewYork.com:
"Everybody has a different opinion. That's his opinion and I have to respect his opinion," Cano said before Tuesday night's game against the Oakland Athletics. "I'm not going to go too far into this. That's the only thing that I can say. My focus right now is this team."
"Everybody knows I play 160 games," Cano said. "How does Mariano feel? I respect that and I'm always going to have respect for him, a guy that I spent nine years with and for me is always going to be the best closer. That's how I feel."
Not only did Cano respond, but his manager Lloyd McClendon came to his player's defense:
"I'm extremely proud, I'm humbled and I feel blessed to be able to manage a guy of Robinson Cano's character and his ability to play the game of baseball," McClendon said. "He's a Seattle Mariner and I'm proud to have him.
"One thing I know about human nature, I don't know what Robinson Cano is feeling inside, just like you don't know what I'm feeling inside. It's impossible for me to justify that or answer that. All I can tell you is check the book — he plays 160, 162 games a year. I think that's pretty good passion.
"The last nine years, he's been the best second baseman in baseball, offensively and defensively, and the awards and the numbers back it up."
You have to respect the way Cano has handled this situation. It isn't easy to have a former teammate criticize your desire publicly, but Cano seems to have taken it in stride and took the classy route in his response.
Rivera didn't forget to mention the reality that Cano is a great talent who may be heading for Cooperstown one day. His respect in that regard was quite apparent, however Rivera put intangibles above raw stats when he considers who would be a great teammate and that's where Cano fell short when compared to Pedroia.
If you were waiting for some kind of explosion to happen, don't hold your breath. Cano had played in the Bronx for nine seasons before moving to Seattle and if there's anything a player learns in New York, it's how to deal with people who are critical of your play.
Despite being put down by Rivera, Cano still holds Rivera in a very high place in his mind, and no matter what Rivera may say, Cano couldn't logically denounce that kind of respect. Digging any deeper into this whole situation would have only created a bigger distraction for Cano and his teammates, so it was wise of him to just let it go.
The question remains: Did Rivera say this just to sell books, or is this really how he feels?
We may never get an answer to that question. Rivera has never been the kind of guy to be dishonest or deceitful for personal gain, so we have to take his word for it until more evidence comes out to the contrary.
Until that happens, there's really nothing to see here, and Cano and Rivera can simply agree to disagree on this subject.
, Boston Red Sox
, Dustin Pedroia
, Lloyd McClendon
, Mariano Rivera
, New York
, New York Yankees
, Robinson Cano