PORT ST. LUCIE – Robinson Cano was a model of health until he came to the Mets.
Mets' second baseman, who was limited to 107 games last year – least of his career after the PED ban that cost him half the season in 2018 – said he spent much of the off-season with his legs build. Cano had three stints on the injuries list last season, two of which were caused by left quadriceps strain. Then, in August, he suffered a torn left Achilles tendon that cost him a month.
"I just have to prevent what happened in the past," said Cano on Sunday. "You have to make these body parts stronger so that I don't go back and hurt myself."
37-year-old Cano has four years and $ 96 million left for the contract the Mets inherited as general manager Brodie Van Wagenen to cause a stir before the 2019 season, potential customers Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn sent to the Mariners and received the All-Star Second Baseman, along with the closer Edwin Diaz. The Mets also sent Jay Bruce, Anthony Swarzak and Gerson Bautista to the Mariners in the trade.
Cano had a disastrous first half and scored an OPS of 0.646, which raised concerns that he was finished as a player. But Cano recovered after the all-star break with an OPS of 0.880. Cano struggled with being hit in the hands at the start of the season, which may have contributed to his struggles in the first half.
"I don't want to say it went the way I want it to," said Cano when asked to rate his first season with the Mets. “I can do better and that is my goal this year to stay healthy. I know that if I am healthy, I can be myself. I can be the Robbie you've always seen playing this game. "
Cano said he was following the approach he would take every day, but stated that he had not yet spoken to the new manager Luis Rojas about a plan. Cano and Rojas got close last season when the latter was the team's quality control trainer.
According to sources, Cano's respect for Rojas may have played a role in Van Wagenen's decision to hire the former small league manager to replace Carlos Beltran. Beltran left the Mets just 77 days after he was hired for his role in the Astros' illegal sign theft program.
"We get along pretty well," said Cano, referring to Rojas. “Last year we talked a lot in the dugout and I asked a lot of questions about the game and the way he moved the outfield in situations. I don't want to say that we're best friends because we aren't, but we talked a lot last year. "
The Mets had a relatively quiet off-season, especially Dellin Betances, Rick Porcello, Michael Wacha, and Jake Marisnick, but Cano expects the team to play at the level they had in the second half of last year. After a catastrophic first half, the Mets recovered and remained in the wildcard race until the last week of the regular season, ending in 86 wins.
"I'm so excited, not just the lineup, the whole bullpen and the whole team," said Cano. "I think what we have here, we have the parts we really need. We have people who have been in the playoffs before, people who have been in the World Series, so it's like we have one new manager, a man who has been in this situation in the past, a man who has done it I was a manager in the Dominican League, a guy who has a lot of good baseball skills, so it's like we got here good chemistry and that will be the greatest thing for us. ”