07/12/11 12:16 AM ET
Cano's special night ends with Derby crown
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
By the time Cano was in the finals at Chase Field, however, needing 12 home runs to bring home the honors, his outlook had changed. After coming this far, he figured that he might as well win the whole thing.
"You don't want to waste almost 40 swings to say congratulations to another person," Cano said. "You want to beat the total, take that trophy. That's a trophy that you can show to your kids when you retire."
Or, in his case, share it with your father. Batting off former big leaguer Jose Cano, the slugger tied his longest home run of the night by crushing a 472-foot bomb, matching Adrian Gonzalez's total in the final round.
He then took a deep breath and crushed a 408-foot bomb to right-center field that secured victory.
"That was a great, great feeling," said Cano, who hit 32 in all to best Gonzalez in what turned out to be a Yankees-Red Sox finals. "It's like when you are in the last inning to win the game. You get excited."
Swinging for the fences was a rewarding experience for the 28-year-old Cano, who had hoped to participate in last year's event but was forced to bow out by a mild back injury.
"It's the kind of thing that you dream of as a kid, watching back in the day, guys like [Mark] McGwire and [Sammy] Sosa," Cano said. "You want to know how it feels to hit a long ball and the fans cheer for you."
With his mother, Clarabelle, also in attendance, it didn't take long for the slugging lefty -- the owner of 15 home runs in the season's first half -- to find out what those roars felt like.
Cano belted eight home runs in the first round, including a 472-foot blast to right-center field that pelted the large neon Miller Lite bottle, drawing enthusiastic reaction from his AL teammates.
"That was my favorite one," Cano said. "I'm going to have that in my mind for the next two or three weeks."
Locked in, Cano simply blew a large bubble and continued swinging, adding another notable shot that drilled an advertising billboard on the facing of the second deck in right field.
The barrage was even more intense in the second round, as Cano blasted another 12 over the fence, giving him 20 at the time. Three of those dozen were estimated at 450 feet or greater, maxing with a 458-foot drive to right field.
As Cano put on an exhibition, his Yankees teammates Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin and David Robertson applauded and preserved the moment with cameras. Martin took on the honorary title of providing Cano with water when requested.
"He has the type of effortless swing that I don't really see him get tired," said Martin, who compared Cano's cuts to those of Ken Griffey Jr. "He doesn't have to put that much effort into his swing. He can just stay up there and swing all day, and keep hitting homers."
The pitches were grooved nicely by Cano's father, Jose, who pitched professionally and made it into six games with the Houston Astros.
"He asked me to throw it inside and low," Jose Cano said. "I said, that's the way I throw you the whole year, so it's going to be easy for me."
During his brief big league time, the elder Cano served up a grand total of two homers in big league ballparks in 1989 -- to Tom Brunansky and Lloyd McClendon, when young Robinson was nearly seven years old.
He more than quadrupled that total in the first round on Monday, then continued adding to the numbers by pitching to honorary AL captain David Ortiz of the Red Sox as well.
In the finals, Cano gulped when Gonzalez came out firing with 11 blasts, but his father kept a confident outlook.
"Every time he hit a home run in the last round, I said, '10 more, nine more, eight more,'" Jose Cano said. "And when he got the last one, I said, 'Just one, just give me the one, that's it.'"
Joked Robinson Cano: "I might bring him to New York."
Cano said that his father often pitches batting practice to him during the winter in the Dominican Republic, and has come to the All-Star Game all three times that the second baseman has participated.
Most of Cano's batting-practice hacks during the season come with Yankees bench coach Tony Pena on the mound, but the family aspect made the elder Cano an easy choice to put on the mound for Monday's events.
"It means a lot to me," Cano said. "He's the kind of guy that's always there for me, not just as a dad but as a friend. Who better than him to be here today throwing BP?"