By Shannon Drayer
NEW YORK – After missing four games with a bone bruise, Robinson Cano is back in the lineup tonight playing second and batting third. After missing four straight games, the most games he has missed in a season since 2006, Cano is glad to see an end come to his bench time.
"Bad. It's been terrible, I hate to sit and watch a game," Cano said. "Things happen in life, thank god it was nothing worse. Just a few days and back in the lineup."
Cano said that he first felt the pain in the area between his thumb and forefinger of his right hand in an early at-bat against the Angels Wednesday night.
"I felt it in that last at-bat," he said. "I felt it from the beginning but I was trying to play, but the last one I was feeling it a little bit and the next day I felt it again and said, 'You know what, I feel this. I don't want to go out and make it worse.' Hopefully today I can go out there and play a game."
Cano is not only in the lineup but also in the spotlight once again in New York. On his first visit he held a press conference that became a bit contentious when the New York media kept trying to press for details on how the deal with Seattle came down and why he thought New York did not make a similar offer. Today a smaller group gathered around his locker and he was more than happy to answer baseball questions – even the question about his lack of home runs this year.
"It's a way bigger ballpark but I am not concerned about it," he said. "I am hitting .300, got my RBIs. I have been doing my job with men in scoring position. I feel like I have been doing my job even if I don't have the homers. There is a lot of games left in the season. A lot can happen."
Cano does believe he is being pitched differently, something he said three weeks ago in a post-game interview on the field in Minnesota. For him it is part of the game and his job to make the adjustment.
"I just go with the way they are pitching," he said. "All I see is more middle away, if it's in it's way in. I'm not a home run hitter. You play here (at Yankee Stadium), you take advantage of the short porch. This is nothing I worry about, just go out there and try to do my job."
He is pitched differently than he was when he had a veteran lineup around him. He said it was similar to what he saw in the first half of last year.
"Last year before we got (Alfonso) Soriano and Alex (Rodriguez) back was different," he said. "You get more walks, intentional. They pitch more around you when they know they got a guy – I'm not saying we don't have a guy – but that's the way they are pitching me."
And who are the guys around him tonight?
Why Dustin Ackley at DH, you might ask? Endy Chavez brings more glove (and certainly more arm) to the position, but more importantly it is a chance to get Ackley off his feet some. Remember those bone spurs he had removed from his ankle two offseasons ago? Well he is still having problems with that. It is not hampering or hurting him as much as before he had the surgery, but some days are tougher than others.
Jones returns to the Big Apple
This should be a big night for James Jones, who was removed from Sunday's game early with tightness in his left groin. Luckily that will not keep him off the field tonight as New York is home for him and this is his first opportunity to play at the big league level in front of his family.
"My mom and sis and a couple of close family friends will be here," he said with a smile. "It's going to be a sight for them to actually sit back and see me play on this stage."
He will also see an old friend across the field. Yankees rookie reliever Dellin Betances, who is a few years older but played on the same travel team as Jones.
"He's one of the guys that inspired me to keep working hard, because when I saw him get drafted in 06 it opened my eyes that hard work would get you there. I am happy I am blessed with the same opportunity he was."
• The move is not official yet and a corresponding move will have to be made but Lloyd McClendon said that Erasmo Ramirez would start the game Tuesday in Atlanta.
• Taijuan Walker and James Paxton are not traveling with the team. Walker will make his second rehab start for the Rainiers Tuesday in El Paso.