Cano: Mariners made me feel at home

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

SEATTLE -- Family and communication were the main themes as second baseman Robinson Cano was introduced as a Seattle Mariner on Thursday.
Cano officially signed his 10-year contract reported to be worth $240 million, and he largely sidestepped questions about what -- other than a monster contract -- led him to leave the New York Yankees to become the face of the long-struggling Mariners.
He went on vacation following the end of last season, and he understood that leaving the pinstripes behind was a possibility.
"When I became a free agent, I knew this is a game, but at the same time, it's a business," Cano said. "Me as a player and them as an organization, we both decide -- the organization decides what is good for them and I decide what is good for me and my family.
"I'm not gonna lie, that's the team you spend nine years with, win a title. But now is the time to turn the page. I'm happy to be here and excited."
Cano said he talked to Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez after Seattle showed serious interest at the general managers meetings last month and began the process of trying to sign Cano.
"He was like, they're gonna make you feel like family. They always going to take care of you," Cano said of his conversations with Hernandez. "That played a big role in my situation. All you want is to be with people who treat you like a family."
Cano will wear No. 22 with the Mariners; he didn't pursue his Yankees number, 24, made legendary in Seattle by Ken Griffey Jr. Regardless of the uniform digits, he immediately becomes the face of a franchise desperate to stem the tide of declining attendance amid a decade of losing seasons. Embattled general manager Jack Zduriencik received mixed reviews for the 10-year deal, but he applauded ownership's commitment in landing a marquee player he believes will be highly marketable for the franchise.
"I think when you look at him and the value he brings to the organization, you just think of the numbers he has put up over the past several years, what he's going to mean to this ballclub," Zduriencik said. "Quite frankly, we think that even at this number he's going to perform -- and that he has performed -- above what even this contract is going to pay him.
"He's a guy that we think is going to age well. He's in great shape, you look at the frame he has, and we think he's going to sustain us for a long period of time, so I think the contract is justified."
Cano repeatedly mentioned great communication during the contract negotiations with the Mariners, although it wasn't clear if he was referring to reported issues with the Yankees last season when manager Joe Girardi moved him from third to second in the batting order due to a string of injuries.
Asked what appealed to him about the Mariners, Cano said, "Be able to share information about the game, not only just to come here, play the game and Sep. 30 I go home. I know this team, this organization, they're going to build a great team in the future because this is not only about the (2014) season, it's about the 10 years. My goal as a player, as a person, is to bring a title to the city."
In signing with Seattle, Cano moves from a star-studded lineup to one that batted just .237 as a team last season -- third lowest in the major leagues. But Cano insists he doesn't feel pressured to lead the team singlehandedly because of his contract.
"I don't feel like, you know what we pay you, you have to do everything next year," he said. "My goal, besides winning, is to share all those great experiences. I was the kid before, and I got a chance to learn from the guys who was in the game for 10, 15, 20 years."
The Mariners also added veteran first basemen/outfielders Corey Hart and Logan Morrison during the Winter Meetings, and they remain in discussions to acquire additional pieces to join Cano.
Cano, 31, is a career .309 hitter with 204 home runs and 822 RBIs in nine seasons with New York. He is also one of the top defensive second basemen in the American League, and he is durable, playing in at least 159 regular-season games each of the past seven years.
"Robinson is one of the top five players in the game. What he brings to the table not only offensively but defensively is tremendous," Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. "Great players make players around them better, and I believe Robinson has the ability to do that. They're pumped up, they're excited about him coming here."
Zduriencik was also highly complimentary of Cano's representation, headed by Jay-Z, dispelling reports of animosity that was created during the negotiations. He said the process of working with Jay-Z and Cano's representatives was "fun," with Cano's team being honest with the Mariners that signing the five-time All-Star was a real possibility.
The press conference was a stark contrast for Zduriencik, who is entering the final year of his contract and faced criticism following a report by the Seattle Times last week that featured heavy criticism from former manager Eric Wedge and former Zduriencik assistant Tony Blengino.
For Zduriencik, Thursday was the day he believes will mark a turn in the Mariners' fortunes, hopefully leading to more elite players being interested in joining Cano in the Pacific Northwest.
"I can't explain how happy I am right now," Cano said. "Not because of the contract, but because of the way that I have been embraced here by the organization. They show me love, they show me they want me from Day 1."
The Yankees' best offer to re-sign Cano was $175 million for seven years. The Mariners reportedly made him a nine-year, $225 million offer when the sides met last week before adding to it to get the deal done.
It is tied for the third-largest contract in major league history, matching the one first baseman Albert Pujols signed with Los Angeles Angels after the 2011 season.
Third baseman Alex Rodriguez has the top two contracts in major league history. He signed a 10-year, $275 million extension with the Yankees in 2007, replacing the 10-year, $252 million deal he signed with the Texas Rangers in 2000.
Cano professed to enjoy visiting Seattle as a visiting player, and he said the city is now his "second home" after the Dominican Republic.
"It's like you have a new house. You can't wait to get in and sleep in your own bed," he said. "Now is the time to go home, keep working hard and get ready."

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