Robinson Cano reported to camp Tuesday as scheduled and immediately embraced the highest bar of expectations for the Seattle Mariners in the upcoming season.
“On paper, we look like world champions,” he proclaimed before adding a qualifier. “Hopefully, we’ll stay healthy. It’s not how we look on paper. We’ve got to go out there and prove it every single day.”
Cano, 32, is comfortable with the loftiest of goals from the nine years spent in New York pinstripes before he signed on last season with the October-starved Mariners.
And it still rankles him that the Mariners, in his first season, fell one game shy of ending what is now a 13-year postseason drought.
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“That’s one thing I will never forget,” he vowed. “One game makes a huge difference. Hopefully, we take that experience and go from the beginning. Not give anything away. Not let anybody take anything from us.”
Cano is, like many, encouraged by the club’s offseason moves, particularly the signing of free agent designated hitter Nelson Cruz, a former Dominican Republic teammate at the World Baseball Classic.
Cruz led the majors last season with 40 homers while playing for Baltimore and projects as the lineup’s cleanup hitter between Cano and Kyle Seager.
“It means now we have a guy (in Cruz) who is going to help us to win games,” Cano said, “a guy who knows how to drive in runs and hit the ball out of the ballpark.
“A guy who has been in the game for a long time, who has been in the postseason, has been in the World Series. We’ve got a guy with experience.”
This is also a trimmer Cano, and one more comfortable in his surroundings as he enters the second season of his 10-year, $240 million deal.
“I just feel like I’m home,” he said. “I was here last year and I know most of the guys. Some of the new guys who came from other teams, I played against them.
“It makes it easier. I can just come in and say hi to everybody.”
Cano said his first year in cooler Seattle taught him that he didn’t need to be as heavy as in the past. He won’t sweat away pounds as he once did in the muggy Bronx heat.
Accordingly, he arrived at 212 pounds — some 13 pounds lighter than a year ago. Also, Cano is completely recovered from the broken toe, which he suffered in November while playing for a MLB touring team in Japan.
“Last year, I can’t complain,” he said about hitting .314 with 14 homers and 82 RBI. “That was a good year for me, even though I didn’t hit the ball out of the ballpark. But to stay healthy and play more than 150 games, that’s what (a good year) means to me.
“I know I work hard. I know I do my job in the offseason to get ready to prepare for the season. I just want to make it to the postseason.”
And not just on paper.