OAKLAND, Calif. — Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano chose not to return fire Tuesday when asked about comments by former Yankees teammate Mariano Rivera that questioned his “passion” for the game.
“I’m not going to comment too far on this,” Cano said. “If that’s how Mariano feels, I respect that. I’m always going to have respect for him. I spent nine years with him.
“For me, he’s always going to be the best closer. That’s how I feel.”
Rivera’s comments surfaced earlier in the day when The New York Daily News published excerpts from his forthcoming book, The Closer.
“This guy (Cano) has so much talent I don’t know where to start,” wrote Rivera , who retired after last season. “There is no doubt that he is a Hall of Fame caliber (player).
“It’s just a question of whether he finds the drive you need to get there. I don’t think Robby burns to be the best. … You don’t see that red-hot passion in him that you see in most elite players.”
Rivera also declared he’d pick Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia over Cano, who left the Yankees after last season by signing a 10-year contract with the Mariners for $240 million.
Regarding Pedroia, Rivera wrote: “Nobody plays harder, gives more, wants to win more. He comes at you hard for 27 outs. It’s a special thing to see.
“If I have to win one game, I’d have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman.”
Cano declined to comment when asked whether he was surprised and/or stung by Rivera’s comments.
“Everybody has a different opinion,” he said. “You’ve got to respect everyone. If that’s his opinion, I have to respect his opinion. I don’t have any other comment. I’m not going to go too far with this.
“My focus right now is this team. I’m here. We’re winning. That’s all it’s about. I was over there, and now I’m here. I want to focus on this team. I don’t want to be a distraction for my teammates.”