Newspaper article International New York Times

Seattle and Its New Face Focus on Winning Now ; after 4 Losing Seasons, Mariners Turn to Cano to Revive a Sagging Brand

Newspaper article International New York Times

Seattle and Its New Face Focus on Winning Now ; after 4 Losing Seasons, Mariners Turn to Cano to Revive a Sagging Brand

Article excerpt

Seattle, which has had four losing seasons in a row, is counting on Robinson Cano to revive a sagging brand.

The Seattle Mariners rebuilt their spring training complex this year, and now, they hope, they have reshaped their identity. The man with three lockers -- one with his name above it, between two empty stalls in the far left corner of the clubhouse -- is the cornerstone, charged with reviving a sagging brand.

It took a 10-year, $240 million contract for the Mariners to lure Robinson Cano from the New York Yankees, and he is not thinking too far ahead. That is for the best and in line with the franchise's vision.

"I don't want to think about five years from now," Cano said Tuesday after his first workout. "I want to go year by year. We're going to play 2014. You don't want to think about '17, what's going to happen."

The Mariners, who have seen their attendance cut in half over the past 11 years, cannot worry about how Cano will play later in the deal. After four losing seasons in a row, and eight of the last 10, overpaying for Cano was their best hope to be relevant beyond their ace right-hander, Felix Hernandez.

"When I got the job five years ago, we were saying we wanted to build the thing through player development and scouting," General Manager Jack Zduriencik said. "We've done that; we've stripped it down, now we've built it back up, and we've got some really nice young players.

"But we were at a point that we had a star in Felix, and we didn't have a star on the field. We thought it was important to launch out and try to bring in a really good player."

They found one in Cano, a five-time All-Star who has averaged 160 games the last seven seasons. His combination of high-level production and durability is rare, especially at second base, although his habit of not always hustling on ground balls remains a flash point.

Seattle Manager Lloyd McClendon said he spoke with Cano and emphasized that he expects a fair effort from every player. But he added: "In the big scheme of things, would I rather have a guy out there for 160 games, hitting . …

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