Cano doesn't foresee power outage in Bronx
Despite loss of Granderson, Yanks second baseman confident guys will step up
TAMPA, Fla. -- There has been a general agreement around the Yankees' offices that their lineup is going to hit fewer home runs and won't score as often this season. In Robinson Cano's mind, however, the expectations have not changed one bit.
Cano said on Wednesday that even as the Yankees prepare to begin the season without outfielder Curtis Granderson, who paced the club with 43 homers in 2012, the sweet-swinging second baseman is trying to keep a level approach and just do his part.
"I don't want ... to put anything in my mind that I have to do more than what I'm capable of," Cano said. "I just have to go out there and play the game. We've got guys here who can step it up.
"It's hard to replace a guy like [Granderson], but other guys can hopefully step it up and do the job and help the team win some games. Sometimes you don't need a home run to win a game. There's a lot of ways you can win a game."
Criticized for being too homer-reliant last year as they slugged a franchise record 245 homers, getting away from the long ball was something the Yanks had been drilling home even before Granderson was lost for 10 weeks with a fractured right forearm.
Subtracting so much power from their lineup over the winter -- notably deleting Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones, as well as the injured Alex Rodriguez -- manager Joe Girardi has stressed that the team must find other ways to score runs.
"We've talked about, we're probably not going to hit as many home runs as we did last year," Girardi said. "We have more speed. We're going to have to rely on our speed more, no doubt about it."
Ichiro Suzuki and Brett Gardner can highlight the efforts of answering the call in that department, but no one has ever looked at Cano or fellow slugger Mark Teixeira as a burner on the basepaths.
That means they will still be leaned on to provide the majority of the power production in April. Girardi said he will have to make sure Cano and Teixeira do not try to put more pressure on themselves, and noted that the Yankees' persistent injury issues of '12 should have been good practice.
"These guys, hopefully, they've been through this injury bug enough that they understand," Girardi said. "I mean, we've lost Tex, we've lost Alex, we've lost Jeet for substantial time. They've had to fill in, and our guys have done a pretty good job of just staying within themselves. Hopefully that experience helps in this situation."
With Granderson absent, Girardi said it is also possible that opposing clubs will be tempted to pitch around Cano and Teixeira more often. Because of that, Girardi said it is also important that Kevin Youkilis and Travis Hafner show the ability to punish that decision.
"It's possible teams might do that," Girardi said. "We know that Youk has the ability to drive in runs; Hafner has the ability to drive in runs. If that's what they want to do and give us free baserunners, we'll take our chances."
As he prepares to join the Dominican Republic's squad for the World Baseball Classic on Sunday, Cano said that it is a good thing he will be thrown into game action so soon, since he does not want to receive too many early off-days because of the Yankees' thirst for power production.
But Cano also doesn't believe the Yankees will have as much trouble living up to their Bronx Bombers nickname as others might be forecasting.
"I'm gonna tell you one thing: this game can change. Anything can change in one second," Cano said. "There's a lot of guys here who have power. We have Hafner, we have [non-roster invitee Dan] Johnson, you have guys that have power.
"Curtis is a guy that is hard to replace. I mean, he's a guy who hits 42, 43 homers a year and drives in 100 [runs]. It's really hard, but we're going to do our best just to keep in the race until he gets back."