ARLINGTON, Texas — It was just about a year ago that Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, a perennial All-Star, bottomed out in the mid-.230s in a dreadful start to the season.
Criticism was sharp that Cano, then 32, had started an inevitable decline with more than 8 1/2 years remaining on his 10-year deal. He spent much of last June muddling along to get out of the .230s before putting on a closing kick.
Fast forward a year and check the numbers.
Cano posted a .302 average with a .355 on-base percentage and a .529 slugging percentage in 159 games from June 4, 2015 through June 4, 2016. He also had 36 doubles, 35 homers, 101 runs and 110 RBIs in that span.
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"Look, I’m healthy," said Cano, who has reached base safely in his last 34 games. "I feel good. Last year, I didn’t feel good. I got off to a bad start. Thank God, I was able to pull out of it and finish strong.
"Then you prepare yourself in the off-season."
That preparation included surgery to correct a double sports hernia, which he battled last season over the closing months.
Some perspective for Cano’s production over the last year:
In his 10 career seasons prior to 2014, Cano averaged 153 games while compiling a .310/.358/.499 slash and averaging 41 doubles, 22 homers, 88 runs and 90 RBIs.
"His bat is quicker than at any point since he left the Yankees (after the 2013 season)," one rival scout said. "And he’s hitting for more power. That’s why I think he gets fooled occasionally. It looks like he loads up and guesses at times.
"But you’ll take that trade-off any day. Because when he makes contact, it’s hard contact."
More perspective for that one-year span:
***Cano has a higher slugging percentage than teammate Nelson Cruz, who leads all players in homers since the start of the 2014 season. (Cano is also higher than Jose Bautista and Miguel Cabrera.)
***Cano’s average ranks 20th in baseball in that span, but the only players with a higher average and more home runs are David Ortiz and Mike Trout. But Cano has more RBIs than Trout; more than all but seven other players.
***Cano has more hits than all but five other players.
"I’ve been fortunate enough (this season) to see it up close and personal," manager Scott Servais said. "He’s been outstanding. Robby has been on fire."
MARTE TO RETURN
Shortstop Ketel Marte is expected to be activated from the disabled list prior to Monday’s series opener against the Cleveland Indians at Safeco Field.
Marte suffered a sprained left thumb while sliding into second base in a May 21 game at Cincinnati. He was batting .276 with a plus-4 defensive rating in runs saved when placed on the disabled list.
"The reports are really good," Servais said. "He’s playing well and swinging the bat pretty good. We’ll get him back into Seattle (on Sunday) and, hopefully, get him on the roster (on Monday).
"We’ll see how he feels when he comes in, but I’m anticipating he’ll be good to go."
To clear space for Marte, the Mariners are expected to option a player to Triple-A Tacoma. The likeliest candidates are outfielder Stefen Romero or one of their two utility players, either Luis Sardinas or Shawn O’Malley.
Marte completed a five-game rehab assignment Saturday at Tacoma by going 0-for-4 in an 8-7 loss at Las Vegas (Mets). He was 4-for-20 with a double, two walks and a stolen base.
FELIX ON HOLD
It’s beginning to appear that right-hander Felix Hernandez might miss more than two starts because of a strained right calf muscle. He is eligible to return June 12 to active duty — but that now appears iffy.
"He’s going in for treatments," Servais said. "He felt a little better (on Saturday). He’s not throwing or anything like that yet. He’s working out in the pool and trying get his legs under him.
"(Hernandez is) moving slow at this point, which I think is pretty much what everybody expected. When you pull something like that, it takes a while. Then it starts to feel better, and you’re good to go pretty quick.
"I’ll be curious to see how he is when we get home. Fingers crossed, but he may miss a couple (of more starts). We’ll see."
MARTIN ON SCHEDULE
Center fielder Leonys Martin is scheduled to run the bases prior to Monday’s game in what could be the final test in recovery from a strained left hamstring before heading to Tacoma for a brief rehab assignment.
Servais said Martin is on schedule to return Friday, when eligible to be activated from the disabled list. Martin was batting .262 with nine homers and 20 RBIs when injured, including .409 (18-for-44) in his previous 13 games.
"We would like to get him out for a rehab so he can test it," Servais said. "The Triple-A club is at home. That makes it easy."
Tacoma won’t conclude its four-game series at Las Vegas until Tuesday. It has an open date Wednesday before opening a four-game series Thursday against Reno (Diamondbacks) at Cheney Stadium.
A year ago, none of the Mariners’ full-season affiliates finished with a winning record. Their combined winning percentage was .407.
Take a look now.
Triple-A Tacoma and Double-A Jackson entered Sunday with substantial leads atop their divisions, Lo-A Clinton was two games back in second place, and Hi-A Bakersfield, while one game under .500, was on a five-game winning streak.
Overall, the Mariners’ four clubs had a winning percentage of 56.6 percent. Only three organizations were higher: Cleveland (62.0 percent), New York Yankees (59.3) and Texas (58.3).
It was 23 years ago Monday — June 6, 1993 — that four Mariners and three Orioles were ejected after a 20-minute brawl in Baltimore. Mariners manager Lou Piniella was ejected after the brawl for arguing over the ejections.
Bill Haselman charged the mound after being hit in the shoulder by a pitch from Baltimore’s Mike Mussina in the seventh inning. Haselman tackled Mussina, which prompted both benches and both bullpens to empty.
Haselman had hit a homer in his previous at-bat, but Mussina might have retaliating for Mariners pitcher Chris Bosio earlier throwing behind two Baltimore hitters.
Haselman, Bosio, Mackey Sasser and Norm Charlton were ejected along with Rick Sutcliffe, Alan Mills and David Segui of the Orioles. Several players also sustained injuries. Bosio suffered a broken collarbone.
Piniella’s ejection stemmed from the umpires’ decision not to eject Mussina. The Mariners also played the rest of the game under protest, which was later denied. The Orioles won 5-2.
Nelson Cruz leads all players with 97 homers since the start of the 2014 season, which corresponds to his departure from Texas as free agent. He spent 2014 in Baltimore before signing a four-year deal with the Mariners…Monday’s game against Cleveland starts a stretch where the Mariners play 23 of their next 26 games against non-division opponents. The only exception in that span is next weekend’s three-game home series against Texas.
The Mariners open a seven-game homestand at 7:10 p.m. Monday when they play the Cleveland Indians in the start to a four-game series at Safeco Field.
Lefty James Paxton (0-1 with a 7.36 ERA) gets a chance to rebound from a rough first start after arriving from Triple-A Tacoma to replace an injured Felix Hernandez. Paxton gave up eight runs in 3 2/3 innings Wednesday at San Diego.
Cleveland plans to start Trevor Bauer (3-2, 4.27). The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN.
The homestand concludes next weekend with a three-game rematch against first-place Texas. After that, the Mariners don’t play the Rangers again until Aug. 29-31 in Arlington.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners