Notebook: McClendon looks past Cano’s lack of power

May 17, 2014, 2:52 PM | Updated: May 19, 2014, 10:38 am

By Shannon Drayer

MINNEAPOLIS – Have you heard the rumblings?

“Situational hitting is great, as is a .309 average but darn it, we want more! Where’s the power? Robinson Cano was brought to Seattle to hit bombs and we are still waiting for his second one.”

The rumblings stop outside the manager’s office, though.

“I’m not concerned about his power at all,” Lloyd McClendon said before Saturday’s game against the Twins. “I challenge anyone to hit that ball as far as he did yesterday – 415 in the gap? He hit that ball pretty good. Without a lot of effort, too. Just flicking the wrist.”

Cano missed home run No. 2 by inches. McClendon estimates he was four or five feet total from missing four or five home runs this year. All signs that he is very close.

“It hasn’t produced itself yet, but I can see it coming,” he said. “He hit a breaking ball yesterday that was as hard a hit breaking ball as I have seen this year.”

Cano enters Saturday’s game hitting .304/.356/.391/.747 with nine doubles and one home run, his lowest total for doubles, home runs and OPS through 41 games since 2008. A year ago he had 11 doubles and 10 home runs. In 2012 he had 16 doubles and four home runs. In the end, McClendon believes the numbers will be there.

“I’m not concerned because if you look at the history of this guy, when he gets hot, he turns really turns it on. He’s probably going to finish with 40 doubles, 25 home runs and 100 plus RBIs,” McClendon said.

While the extra-base hits would be appreciated, so should what Cano has done so far. His RBIs are very much in the neighborhood of what he has done in past years. His hit total is one off of where it was after 41 games in 2012 and 2013. The hits are there. He consistently has hit, which is absolutely no surprise to McClendon.

“Like I told you, check the book,” he said with a laugh. “The guy hits. He hits. He’s like a guy who scores 20 points in basketball. You look up say, ‘How the hell did he get those points?’ It’s the same with Robbie. You look up and say, ‘He’s hitting .300, he’s got nine or 10 doubles, he’s got 20-25 RBIs.’ He’s on pace. His home runs will come and they will come in bunches.”

It stands to reason that they will. He is seeing the ball, driving the ball, hitting the ball with consistency. His game isn’t to pull the towering home runs. He historically has been a line-drive hitter and the doubles and line-drive home runs should come.

“He kind of reminds me a little bit of (Barry) Bonds – and not in the sense of power – but Bonds or (Miguel) Cabrera, they are line-drive hitters that happen to hit home runs,” McClendon said. He’s a line-drive hitter that happens to hit home runs and he is going to hit his home runs. They will come.”

The person most unconcerned about all of this, even less concerned than McClendon, appears to be Cano himself. It doesn’t appear that he has ever put pressure on himself to live up to an impossible contract. He has been the picture of consistency at the plate and time after time has given himself up to do the little and right things when necessary, much like he did Friday night when he advanced the runner to third in the ninth inning while Seattle was down by one. He fought off pitches until he could get one he could hit to the right side of the field. A 4-3 putout but a productive out that put his team in position to tie the game.

“I can trust that he is going to give every effort to do everything right,” McClendon said. “Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. You know his heart is in the right place.”

Day in and day out. I don’t think enough can be said about the consistency and as the weather heats up there should be bigger rewards for that consistency.

Lineup

James Jones, 8
Michael Saunders, 9
Robinson Cano, 4
Corey Hart, DH
Kyle Seager, 5
Justin Smoak, 3
Dustin Ackley, 7
Mike Zunino, 2
Brad Miller, 6

Notes

James Paxton threw a 36-pitch simulated game and all went well. He should throw another simulated game Tuesday in Texas.

Taijuan Walker threw a 50-pitch bullpen and also should throw a simulated game Tuesday. Walker threw all of his pitches and according to pitching coach Rick Waits finished very strong.

• With the off day Monday, McClendon has elected to skip Brandon Maurer the next time through the rotation. He will be available in the bullpen the next few days.

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