Mariners notebook: Robinson Cano appreciates team’s new emphasis on situational hitting

Feb 29, 2016, 2:39 PM | Updated: 3:17 pm
“I like this kind of competitiveness,” Robinson Cano said of the Mariners’ situat...
"I like this kind of competitiveness," Robinson Cano said of the Mariners' situational-hitting drill. (AP)
(AP)

Despite a valiant comeback effort by Team Cruz in Day 2 of the Mariners’ situational-hitting game, Team Cano hung on and took the 185-178 victory.

“You buy lunch!” Cano shouted as Gaby Sanchez took the final at-bat for Team Cruz.

It was determined in the morning meeting that the losing team would buy lunch for the entire building – major leaguers, minor leaguers, coaches, staff and possibly media, too.

“It should be nice, you guys were there. I’m going to ask that tomorrow,” Cano said of the possibility of the media being included.

Audio: Cano talks his team’s victory over Team Cruz, impressions of camp

Cano took his job as captain seriously, once again shifting his infielders, this time when Seth Smith stepped up the plate.

“We all know him, he pull everything,” Cano said almost apologetically about his teammate. “I cannot let that go.”

The move paid off as Smith grounded into the double play. It was all ultimately in good fun in a two-day drill that Cano said would benefit the team.

“I love that,” he said. “I like this kind of competitiveness. Nobody has to be in the field, everybody gets to hit. It is good you are not allowed to hit home runs. The only way you can hit home runs is opposite field which is good – always keeps you working the middle of the field.

“Everyone has to do their job and get them over which is good. You are going to start games in the next two days and that’s a great idea that everyone has in their mind that you can move the runner. It doesn’t have to be only the bottom part of the lineup.”

The team drill was a continuation of what was being taught in smaller hitting groups throughout the week. Teach it, talk it and do it has been an effective progression, according to Cano.

“First he went by group and now he splits everyone into groups and I love those things,” he said. “When you do those situations now you mentally send a message to your brain that when a situation like that comes, so now you are going to react. You have been in that situation before, you know what you are going to do in that situation.”

Cano hit the ball hard both days – he has been the entire camp for that matter – and has reported no troubles coming off his offseason double sports hernia surgery. He noted that the intensity level has been turned up now that he is working out alongside others in camp as opposed to alone at home, and all is still good. In addition to feeling good physically, he likes the general feel of camp this year and said Servais has set a good tone early.

“I like the way how everything starts in here,” he said referring to the morning meetings. “We get to meet, we make fun, we get to know each other which I think is the best thing. We have got a lot of new players, a new coaching staff, that’s what you want as a manager.

“You don’t want to go through the season to get to know your teammates, especially guys they are not even going to make the team but later on they will be called up. It is good to know where they are coming from, who they are or how they make it the first time, in spring training. All that stuff you want to know to get to know your teammates.”

By all appearances the situational games have been a success both in exercising fundamentals and as a team-building activity.

“You can kind of see where I am headed with this thing, trying to create more of a family atmosphere here,” Servais said Monday morning. “Team is huge. The teams that win usually have good chemistry. We have so many new players here I think that was probably the most important thing to get accomplished, especially early in camp, and I think it has gone OK so far.”

Notes:

• The Cactus League Report can be heard Monday on 710 ESPN Seattle from 7 to 9 p.m. Joining me, Rick Rizzs, Dave Sims and Mike Blowers will be Jerry Dipoto, Charlie Furbush, Adrian Sampson, Casey Candaele and Seattle Times columnist Matt Calkins. If you are in the area, you are welcome to stop by the taping which will take place at the Salty Senorita from 6 to 8 p.m. local time.

• When games begin on Wednesday, the players’ days will look much different. There will still be drills in the mornings but players will break earlier in order to have lunch and get ready for games. With a new manager and mostly new staff, a different kind of learning will take place during those games, according to Servais. “There’s constant teaching going on,” he said. “We’ve got 33 spring training games. There’s a lot for us to get to know our players, to get to know my style, (Manny Acta’s) style at third base giving signs, (Mel Stottlemyre Jr.’s) style in the dugout between innings. It’s constant back and forth.”

• You may have noticed on the roster that Mayckol Guaipe has changed his number from 53 to 48. He has done this to honor his friend Victor Sanchez, who died last year shortly before spring training from injuries sustained in a boating accident.

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Mariners notebook: Robinson Cano appreciates team’s new emphasis on situational hitting