Kevin Long has been the Yankees' hitting coach since 2007, Robinson Cano's third season. (Diamond Images/Getty Images)
Robinson Cano's hustle — or lack thereof — is no longer the Yankees' concern, as the second baseman signed a 10-year, $240 million deal with the Mariners two months ago.
But Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long is still bothered that neither he nor anyone else with the team could get through to Cano about his lack of hustle.
“If somebody told me I was a dog,’’ Long told John Harper of the New York Daily News on Sunday, “I’d have to fix that. When you choose not to, you leave yourself open to taking heat, and that’s your fault. For whatever reason, Robbie chose not to.’’
Long was speaking specifically about Cano not running hard to first base on routine ground balls.
“He overcame so much while he was here,’’ Long said. “As a young kid, there were holes everywhere. There were holes in his swing, in his makeup, in his body composition. This kid grew and grew and grew.
“We all talked to him. 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."
Cano, 31, is a five-time All Star who has a .309 average, 204 home runs and 822 RBIs in nine big league seasons. Those numbers were a direct result of the extra work he did in the batting cage, Long said.
“All the other stuff … he’d take plays off in the field, he’d give away at-bats in RBI situations. He made a lot of personal decisions to get over the hump in those areas. People don’t know how hard he worked, how many times he was the one asking me to do extra work in the cage.’’