Robinson Cano has a way of making baseball look effortless. Which is all well and good when he’s batting his usual .310 with very good power. When he slumps, his usual manner makes him look lackadaisical and disinterested, even though he might be anything but.
Cano went hitless in a fifth straight game Sunday in the loss to the Tigers, and he’s now in an 0-for-26 skid that ranks as the longest hitless streak ever to be compiled in a single postseason, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The second baseman also made a key defensive miscue in the seventh inning today, mishandling the relay from short on what should have been an inning-ending double-play ball. Quintin Berry scored the Tigers’ first run of the game on the play.
Overall, Cano is 2-for-32 for the postseason, though he does have four RBI.Raul Ibanez and Ichiro Suzuki, with five apiece, are the Yankees leaders.
What makes Cano’s struggles all the more incredible is that he finished the season on a remarkable 25-for-39 tear. He was so hot that even if one sticks the 2-for-32 onto the end of that, he still has a .380 average in his last 71 at-bats.
Given that Cano is the Yankees’ best player, there’s not going to be any benching him. He’ll just have to hit his way out of the slump, something that figures to be pretty difficult with the Tigers throwing Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer the next two games. Cano has hit .226 with no homers in 31 at-bats against Verlander. He’s 2-for-11 with a homer against Scherzer.
The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reports that Athletics’ right-hander Sonny Gray will not pitch in the World Baseball Classic after failing to meet the necessary criteria for insurance coverage. He missed 70 days on the disabled list with forearm tightness and a back strain in 2016.
According to Oakland GM David Forst, Major League Baseball tried to persuade the insurance carrier to waive the requirements for Gray to pitch for Team USA, but the request was ultimately refused. Without coverage, Gray will be unable to participate in the competition, though Forst adds that the 27-year-old is still in perfect health as Opening Day approaches and should benefit from a slower spring training schedule without the added commitment on his plate.
Injuries complicated a down year for Gray, who pitched to a career-worst 5.69 ERA, 3.2 BB/9 and 7.2 SO/9 rate through 117 innings in 2016. His 1.4 HR/9 and 17.8% HR/FB rates suggested that he felt the effects of the home run spike more than most, capping a disappointing follow-up to his All-Star campaign during 2015.
While Gray works up to a healthy and productive start to the 2017 season, the Athletics will still see two players on WBC rosters next month: right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, who is scheduled to pitch for the Dominican Republic, and fellow righty John Axford, for Team Canada.
Rangers’ outfielder Josh Hamilton is scheduled for another knee exam on Monday, according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Hamilton left camp last week after feeling some pain in his left knee and received a PRP injection to alleviate the symptoms. Wilson notes that both Dr. Walt Lowe and Rangers’ assistant general manager Mike Daly noticed little improvement in the days following the injection.
More drastic measures could be necessary if the 35-year-old intends to return to the field this year. MLB.com’s TR Sullivan adds that the Rangers are considering arthroscopic surgery for Hamilton, which would set him back at least 4-6 weeks and eliminate any real chance of his making the Opening Day roster in April. Until they see the results of the surgery, however, the Rangers won’t rule out Hamilton’s potential return to the big leagues in 2017.
Hamilton is looking at his third major procedure since the end of the 2015 season. He missed all of the Rangers’ 2016 campaign after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery last spring and has not seen a full workload in the majors since his 2013 run with the Angels. Should he make a full recovery this season, he figures to see some time at first base/DH or the corner outfield.