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Thursday, July 4, 2013
Cano: Heck, yeah, I'd pitch to me

By Wallace Matthews

Robbie Cano
If you were Ron Gardenhire, would you have walked Robinson Cano on Wednesday night?
MINNEAPOLIS -- The turning point of Wednesday night's 3-2 New York Yankees win over the Minnesota Twins came in the sixth inning, when, with Yankees on second and third, none out and the Twins holding a 2-0 lead, manager Ron Gardenhire elected to pitch to Robinson Cano, currently the hottest hitter in the galaxy, rather than walk him with first base open and set up a force at any base.

The result, Cano lining a game-tying double, was as predictable as a Mariano Rivera ninth inning, even if Joe Girardi, adhering to the manager's creed, stubbornly refused to admit that it was at the very least a questionable move.

Cano, however, had another agenda entirely: He never wants to walk, intentionally or not, so when asked if he would have pitched to Robinson Cano in that situation, he laughed and said, "Oh yeah, I would have pitched to him. I would have pitched to him. I'm not a manager."

What he is, however, is a pure hitter, one who currently is on a 15-for-24 tear (.625) in the first six games of this road trip, with four home runs and 10 RBIs. He was 2-for-3 on Wednesday night, plus a walk, and was only retired at all because Aaron Hicks made a spectacular diving catch of his liner to center in the eighth inning. Cano's average is now up to .299 after having languished in the .270s for a few weeks.

"I've been feeling the same way since the beginning of the season, but they're falling now," he said. "And they're pitching to me, which is different."

Asked why he thought the Twins chose to pitch to him Wednesday night, Cano was typically candid: "The only way that you can look at it, it's a team that is not in the race. Maybe when you're in the race, it's different. The last thing you want is the same guy to beat you twice, the third hitter to beat you. Maybe I would say that's the difference. They're taking their chances."

This chance backfired badly on Gardenhire and the Twins.

Question: Putting your personal rooting interest aside, would you have pitched to Robbie Cano in that spot? Sound off in the comments section below.