MIAMI—Robinson Cano is on a ridiculous tear.
The Yankees’ second baseman, playing for the Dominican Republic, went 3 for 4 with a solo home run Tuesday in a 5-4 win over Italy in the second-round opener of the World Baseball Classic at Marlins Park.
Cano was the MVP of the first-round tournament in Puerto Rico, banging out three hits in each of three games, and he is off to an identical start here.
For the entire WBC, he is hitting .750 (12 for 19) with two homers and six RBI.
“I was not aware of that,” Cano said when asked about his numbers. “I’m just very proud and happy to play with these guys and for my country.”
Not everything on Tuesday made Cano happy, though. He took issue with a Nick Punto slide into second base.
“I was upset because it was the third time (it had happened in the game),” Cano said of the hard slide. “I don’t care if he slides on a double play, but just when it’s a force play? The last thing you want is
to get hurt like that.
“(Punto) slid past the base. If I’m in the middle of the bag, I don’t care. (Punto) said he didn’t want to hurt me, but it was the third time,
and I was mad.”
But, as we have seen elsewhere in this year’s WBC, emotions run high, and the Dominicans displayed pure joy when they put together a three-run
seventh inning to rally past Italy.
In the postgame press conference, media members told Cano they had rarely seen him that excited, even when he was winning a World Series in
2009 with the Yankees.
Cano explained that the unwritten rules of baseball are a bit different here. Whereas players celebrating outside the dugout in the middle of a game may be seen as “showing up” a major league opponent, here it’s just
part of what it means to represent your country.
After issuing a diplomatic answer, Cano was pressed about which was more exciting, winning in the World Series or the WBC.
“I would say both,” Cano said as reporters laughed.
Cano’s infield partner, shortstop Jose Reyes, was delighted to get a win
in his return to Marlins Park, where he played his home games last season before being traded to Toronto.
The WBC partnership with Reyes has provided a lift to Cano, he said.
“Not because he is here with me now (at the press conference), but it’s a
joy to play with Jose,” Cano said. “He is always happy. If I am ever tired, I can look to my right and say: ‘Wait, this man (Reyes) is always
full of energy. Let me play up to his level.’
“That’s what’s important, to play with a guy like Jose who is always enthusiastic, always smiling and full of desire.”