KANSAS CITY — When it comes to booing Robinson Cano, Kauffman Stadium takes a back seat to no venue — including the newly aggrieved in New York who seethe over his free-agent decision to sign with the Mariners.
Royals fans still haven’t forgiven Cano, if his reception Friday is any indication, for his decision two years ago not to include Billy Butler in the American League lineup for the Home Run Derby at Kauffman Stadium.
“That was that day,” Cano said. “ I mean, I like this city. I did what I did, and I never regretted anything I did.”
The Royals’ faithful still contend Cano, who served as the AL captain, reneged on a pledge to include a hometown player in picking the participants.
“I didn’t lie,” Cano said at the time in explaining his decision not to select Butler. “Before they picked him (to the All-Star team), I had to pick the (Derby) team.”
Royals fans didn’t buy it and responded with loud boos when Cano took part in the Derby. Those boos grew louder as he struggled through an 0-fer in the Derby and continued the following night at the All-Star Game.
It also didn’t matter — to Royals fans, anyway — that the team Cano selected (Prince Fielder, Jose Bautista and Mark Trumbo) romped to a 61-21 victory over the National League in the Derby.
#BooCano became a rallying twitter cry among Royals fans, who continued the treatment when Cano returned on subsequent visits while playing for the Yankees.
Nothing changed Friday for Cano’s first appearance in a Mariners uniform. He responded with an RBI single in the first inning. He also had an RBI double and two walks in five plate appearances.
“I got it (earlier this season) when I was in New York, too,” he said.
“So, I’m not going to change anything. I’m just going to go out there and play my game.”
Seager at DH
Third baseman Kyle Seager served as the designated hitter for the first time since May 16, 2012 — and just the third time in his career. Veteran utilityman Willie Bloomquist started at third.
“We wanted to get (Seager) off his legs a little bit,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We’ve been grinding him. We’ll try to freshen him up a little bit.”
Seager had started 68 of 73 games this season at third base, including the last 37 in a row.
McClendon had made it a pre-season goal to rest Seager on occasion in the belief that he wore down at the end of last season, when he started at third in 158 of the 162 games.
“I need to be more conscious of that,” McClendon said. “I know he’s swinging the bat pretty good for us, but we’ve got to rest him whenever we can. This is one way to do it.”
Rookie center fielder James Jones is, it appears, a quick study.
He is batting just .197, at 14-for-71, when he sees a pitcher for the first time in a game. But his average jumps to .359 (33-for-92) on subsequent trips.
The 89-degree temperature for the first pitch was the hottest yet this season for a Mariners game…Robinson Cano is now 34-for-84 (.405) in his career against James Shields after going two-for-three with a walk…Charlie Furbush went 65 appearances between victories. His last one was July 3, 2013 at Texas…The Royals have two of the top five active career hitters (minimum 60 at-bats) against the Mariners: Salvy Perez is second at .357 (25-for-70); and Billy Butler is fifth at .332 (67-for-202). Outfielder Brennan Boesch, currently with Triple-A Salt Lake in the Angels’ system, ranks first at .400 (32-for-80)…The all-time batting leader against the Mariners (minimum 60 at-bats) is Rex Hudler at .417 (25-for-60). Hudler now serves as a Royals broadcaster.
Double-A Jackson right-hander Victor Sanchez drew a mention from Baseball America in its weekly Prospect Hot Sheet after pitching seven shutout innings in his only start.
It also noted he projects as no better than a No. 4 or No. 5 starter in the big leagues.
“The 19-year-old is remarkably advanced for his age,” Baseball America reported, “which is why he’s able to hold his own against Double-A hitters, but the lack of an out-pitch and average-at-best velocity makes it hard to project him as a front-end starter.”
It was 10 years ago Saturday — June 21, 2002 — that the Mariners and the Houston Astros, now division rivals, played for the first time in history. Jamie Moyer pitched seven innings in an 8-0 victory at Minute Maid Park.
John Halama completed the shutout. Ruben Sierra and Dan Wilson hit homers. The Astros were then member of the National League Central Division. They shifted to the American League West in 2013.
The Mariners and Royals continue their three-game weekend series at 11:10 a.m. Pacific time Saturday at Kauffman Stadium. Root Sports will carry the game.
Right-hander Chris Young (6-4 and a 3.40 ERA) will face ex-Mariners lefty Jason Vargas (7-2 and 3.25). Both pitchers posted victories when the clubs met last month in a four-game series at Safeco Field.
Young held the Royals to one run and three hits in eight innings on May 10 in a 3-1 victory. That was one night after Vargas pitched seven shutout innings in a 6-1 victory.