Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long made some choice comments to the New York Daily News on Sunday, telling the Big Apple newspaper that he was not particularly fond of Robinson Cano‘s hustle down the line to first base.
Two days later, Cano’s new manager, Lloyd McClendon, was sticking up for his new superstar.
“Last time I checked, I didn’t know that Kevin Long was the spokesman for the New York Yankees,” McClendon told ESPN.com. “That was a little surprising. I was a little pissed off, and I’m sure Joe [Girardi] feels the same way. He’s concerned with his team and what they’re doing, not what the Seattle Mariners players are doing.
“I’m a little surprised that Kevin Long is the spokesman for the New York Yankees. I wonder if he had any problems with Robbie when he wrote that book ["Cage Rat"] proclaiming himself as the guru of hitting.”
Long responded to those comments Tuesday afternoon after the Yankees daily workout, saying “I just said he loafed sometimes. I’ve said 9,000 good things about him. He just had one issue.”
Long also said that he has reached out to Cano, but hasn’t heard anything back.
In the story published in the Daily News Sunday, Long also went on to praise Cano for the many good things he had done in his nine seasons with the Yankees, hitting .309 with five all-star selections and two Gold Glove awards. But it was his comments below that everyone took away.
“If somebody told me I was a dog, I’d have to fix that,” Long said. “When you choose not to, you leave yourself open to taking heat, and that’s your fault. For whatever reason, Robbie chose not to.
“I’m pretty sure [Derek] Jeter talked to him a number of times. Even if you run at 80 percent, no one’s going to say anything. But when you jog down the line, even if it doesn’t come into play 98 percent of the time, it creates a perception.”
McClendon also said on Tuesday that he feels no need to address the issue with Cano.
“I understand,” McClendon said. “I get it. I was a major league player. There are times when you hit balls and you’re frustrated as hell and you don’t give it 100 percent. As long as you don’t dog it down the line, what’s the difference between 65 and 85 percent? Just run down the line. Sometimes that stuff is blown out of proportion.
“To me, the most important thing is the guy goes out there for 160 games a year, he hits .330, he drives in over 100 runs and he hits 25-30 home runs. I just need Robinson to be Robinson. Like all the rest of my guys know, just don’t dog it. Am I expecting you to give me 110 percent down the baseline every night? No. I’m expecting you to give me a good effort.”