Cano returns, says he stayed sharp working with dad

Cano RobbieRobinson Cano is back in the Mariners lineup today, having returned from four days in the Dominican Republic while dealing with a family situation.

Cano said he stayed sharp by working out and hitting batting practice every day with his father, Jose Cano, who was a pitcher in the Yankees, Braves and Astros organizations and had a brief Major League stint with the Astros in 1989.

“Everything is fine,” Cano said Wednesday morning after arriving back at the Mariners complex in Peoria. “I took care of things and now I’m ready to get back. We’ve still got two weeks, so there’s plenty of time to get everything right.”

Cano also missed four games earlier in camp after having root canal surgery and returned with three hits his first game back and went 8-for-11 over his next four games before having to leave for the Dominican. He said he stayed sharp during his first layoff by hitting black beans with a broomstick in order to keep his eyes sharp.

Did he do the same while in the Dominican?

“Yep, I’ve been doing that since I was a kid,” Cano said. “And sometimes we use bottle caps. They really move and you have to watch them all the way. And if you hit ‘em, they go a long ways.”

Cano is back in the lineup in his normal No. 3 spot for Wednesday’s 1:05 p.m. PT game against the Brewers in Peoria, touting a .609 batting average (14-for-23) from his first nine Cactus League games. That torrid pace surely won’t continue for long, but manager Lloyd McClendon isn’t worried about working the team’s newest star back into the swing of things.

“Robbie is a professional,” McClendon said. “He knows how to go about his business. We were in contact and he worked out every day in the Dominican with his dad. It’s not like he’s just been off and he’s rusty. He’s proven he can come back after five days and get three hits and a couple doubles, so that’s pretty impressive.”

Cano was one of the first players in the clubhouse Wednesday morning, saying he always likes to come in early to lift weights, work on his legs, do some running and hit in the cages.

“These last two weeks [of spring] are important,” he said. “It’s time to start really getting ready.”

McClendon has Cano hitting third, but has moved a few other players around in Wednesday’s lineup, with shortstop Brad Miller hitting second and Kyle Seager dropped to the No. 5 spot and Dustin Ackley hitting eighth. Corey Hart isn’t playing after starting in right field the night before, but most of the regulars are in the lineup as the team starts gearing toward Opening Day on March 31.

“I’m just tinkering, trying to figure out what’s the best lineup for us moving forward,” McClendon said. “You may see [Nick] Franklin leading off tomorrow. I don’t know. I’m just doing a few things to see what fits best.”

Here’s the full lineup for today’s game, which is available live on Gameday Audio on or tape delayed at 8 p.m. PT on 710 ESPN Seattle.

Abraham Almonte CF
Brad Miller SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Justin Smoak 1B
Kyle Seager 3B
Logan Morrison DH
Michael Saunders RF
Dustin Ackley LF
Mike Zunino C

Blake Beavan RHP

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