The Mariners, currently tied with the Astros for the lead in the AL West, won’t play Robinson Cano every day at second base when he returns from his 80-game suspension on August 14, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports. Cano is also recovering from surgery to repair a fractured fifth metacarpal in his right hand, but he is expected to be ready to go when he is eligible to return from his suspension.
Dee Gordon, who moved to center field from second base when the Mariners acquired him from the Marlins, moved back to second base in Cano’s absence. While Gordon hasn’t done much with the bat and his defense ranges from “average” to “bad” depending on which stats one uses and whom one asks, he will be the Mariners’ second baseman should the club reach the postseason. Cano is ineligible for the postseason as a result of his suspension. Understandably, the Mariners want to keep Gordon sharp at second base, which means at least part-time play there.
GM Jerry Dipoto said:
We have a pretty good idea of what we want to do, but a lot of it is going to be dictated by where we are in the standings. As versatile and athletic as Dee is, it’s not that easy to go play center field for a month-and-a-half and then say, ‘Oh, by the way, you’re going to go play second base in the biggest game of your career when you just haven’t been out there.’ It’s going to take some juggling and we’ll have to figure out a way.
That could allow for a time-share, so to speak, where we keep everybody sharp. But we do know Dee is going to have to play second base as we come down the stretch. Because if we want to be in the postseason — which we do — then we know who our second baseman is going to be. And it’s going to be Dee Gordon.
A couple weeks after the Cano suspension, the Mariners acquired Denard Span and Alex Colome from the Rays. Span has handled left field while Guillermo Heredia has been the regular center fielder and both have performed well. In fact, since Cano has been gone, the Mariners have gone 19-7 and have held at least a share of first place in the division since June 2.
As Crasnick points out, Cano has never really played another position other than second base. He has DH’ed a bit, but that’s Nelson Cruz‘s job. Cano has an inning of shortstop work under his belt, but otherwise has no major league experience at any other position. Perhaps the most realistic solution is to give Cano some time at first base. Ryon Healy has a .695 OPS, leaving him without much leverage to maintain playing time.