Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Mo puts Yankees 1st, Cano does not

The New York Yankees must have breathed a sigh of relief when Mariano Rivera announced he was willingly withdrawing from the All-Star game due to a couple of nagging injuries. But they probably started sweating again when Robinson Cano announced he would participate in Monday's Home Run Derby. The Hall of Fame closer is putting his team first while the rising star is not.

Mo revealed that the left side injury that sidelined him for a week in May is still bothering him and pain in the right knee cropped up since the series against the Los Angeles Dodgers a few weeks ago. Rather than attend the All-Star game, he will return to New York after the Seattle series this weekend and take advantage of the Yankees extra-long All-Star break to heal. It's not the first time Mo, always a team-first player, has withdrawn from the All-Star game. If the 40-year-old closer continues pitching beyond this year, it likely won't be the last.

Meanwhile, Cano will be giving his manager Joe Girardi and hitting coach Kevin Long heartburn due to his decision to participate in the Home Run Derby. Long made it clear before the game that he did not think it was a good idea because of the exhausting effort required and the ill effects suffered by some participants in the second half of the season.

Cano said he was surprised by the invitation, which speaks to the problem caused by the derby. Many of the big power guys, such as Alex Rodriguez, simply refuse to participate due to the belief that the contest gets them out of good batting habits. Major League Baseball asked Cano, now one of the elite players in the game, because they need as many big names as possible to keep ESPN happy about the derby's ratings and the popularity of the contest.

The Yankees would not be in first place without Cano’s MVP-caliber first half. But Cano needs to realize, as Mo has long known, that his primary obligation is to the Yankees and that he needs to put the team first. He should withdraw from the derby immediately.

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