Cano springing back to life
Second baseman giving bottom half of Yanks' lineup big boost
NEW YORK -- The Yankees are smiling, and so is Robinson Cano -- now that the valuable second baseman is back to playing a more productive role in the bottom half of their batting order.
Cano took the field at Yankee Stadium to face the Mariners on Sunday having played his most productive game of the season on Saturday. He went 4-for-4, with three doubles, an RBI and an intentional walk in New York's 12-6 victory over Seattle on Saturday.
The infielder was batting .352 in 19 games in May, after struggling through an April in which he hit just .151. He's still scuffling with a .214 batting average against right-handed pitchers, and his average under the lights is a dim .183.
But things are looking up for Cano, a guy who the Yankees know they need.
"If you look how teams are set up, if the guys at the bottom half of our lineup are having a good year, we are golden," said Yankees leadoff hitter Johnny Damon. "You know the guys in the middle of the lineup are going to put up numbers and do their thing. But if you can do it at the back end of your lineup, you are going to score a lot of runs."
Cano has batted mostly seventh so far this season, but he's also had turns in the Nos. 2, 6, 8 and 9 holes.
"When Robbie is hitting, regardless of where he hits -- sixth, seventh, eighth -- it balances the lineup," said shortstop Derek Jeter. "It's definitely a positive to have a person who hits the way he hits at the bottom of the lineup."
There appears to be an increased level of joy in the Yankees' dugout when Cano produces at the plate.
"You ever see him when he gets a hit?" Jeter said, smiling. "When he gets a hit, he has a huge smile on his face, so he's happy for himself. I think it's like that for everyone. Robbie is a little more outgoing than some other people, so it may appear that way."
Jeter added that there is also enthusiasm in the dugout when Jason Giambi, who has also struggled this season, succeeds.
"You are happy for him," Jeter said of Cano. "He has been scuffling a little bit. This year, it seemed like early on, everything he hit hard was caught. You hate to see anybody struggling. You are pulling for them to do well."
Damon said he believes that when the season is over, Cano will have good numbers.
"There's a reason there are 162 games," Damon said. "He's going to end up hitting .300 and be a big producer for our team. He's too good a hitter to be kept down."
Disabled catcher Jorge Posada has had a lot of time to sit on the bench and watch the entire Yankees lineup.
"They are pitching good, and the lineup is coming along," Posada said. "Giambi and Cano are having great at-bats, and they have picked up this lineup a lot."
Kit Stier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.