Seattle Mariners

Cano knows the highs and lows of the Home Run Derby

Robinson Cano uses rosin on his bat during a Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels. Cano, a three-time participant in the Home Run Derby, won the 2011 event by hitting 32 homers over three rounds — but finished last with a zero the following year.
Robinson Cano uses rosin on his bat during a Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels. Cano, a three-time participant in the Home Run Derby, won the 2011 event by hitting 32 homers over three rounds — but finished last with a zero the following year. The Associated Press

Planning to watch the Home Run Derby on Monday night from Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati?

There might be no player who better knows the Derby’s highs and lows than Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano.

He is a three-time participant who won the 2011 Derby at Arizona by hitting 32 homers over three rounds but finished a dismal last with a zero the following year at Kansas City, Missouri.

“They changed (the format) this year,” Cano said, “but the key is to be yourself. I’ll be honest, when I went to the Derby the first time, I told my dad, ‘Well, I hope I at least make it to the second round.’”

That was in 2011. His father, who served as his personal pitcher, had other ideas.

“When I got to the second round,” Cano recalled, “I told my dad, `Now, I’m happy.’ He said, `Happy? Let’s go win this. You got past the first round. That’s the hardest one. Just be yourself and keep swinging.’”

Cano did just that and edged Adrian Gonzalez, then with Boston in the final 32-31.

This year’s Derby is 5 p.m. Monday at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. It offers a new tournament format for the eight participants as opposed to the old round-robin approach.

“Just be yourself,” Cano advised. “When you go out there, just make your swings. This year should be fun because you’re playing in a small park.”

Cano headed home to the Dominican Republic after Sunday’s 10-3 thumping by the Angels. It marked the first time since 2009 that he wasn’t traveling to the All-Star Game.

“The All-Star Game is good,” he said. “It’s where the best go. But you get more tired than anything else. So this could be good for me.”

FARQUHAR OPTIONED

Reliever Danny Farquhar is heading back to Triple-A Tacoma in an effort to rediscover his form. He was optioned to the Rainiers after Sunday’s game against the Angels.

The Mariners did not announce a corresponding move, but they are expected to recall right-hander Tom Wilhelmsen from Tacoma prior to resuming their season Friday in New York.

Farquhar pitched three times following his recall Thursday from Tacoma. He struggled in his first two outings before working 1 2/3 scoreless innings in Sunday’s blowout loss.

His ERA is 6.23 in 25 games.

Wilhelmsen has four scoreless one-inning appearances at Tacoma since his July 4 demotion. He had 1.96 ERA through 15 big-league appearances before allowing nine runs in 6 2/3 innings over seven games.

ROTATION POSSIBILITIES

Manager Lloyd McClendon continues to hedge on his rotation coming out of the All-Star break beyond identifying left-hander J.A. Happ as the likely starter for the fourth game back — July 20 in Detroit.

That will require a roster move because Happ is currently at Hi-A Bakersfield on an optional assignment. While he reported to the Blaze, he is not expected to pitch for them.

The Mariners optioned Happ to Bakersfield after his July 8 start against the Tigers in what, effectively, was a paper move to add a bat for the four-game weekend series against the Angels.

As for everything else … the Mariners are likely to hold right-hander Taijuan Walker for their fifth game back from the break as a step toward managing his innings.

That would leave Mike Montgomery, Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez as the likely starters for the three games this weekend at New York.

FURBUSH UPDATE

Plans call for lefty reliever Charlie Furbush to test his recovery from biceps tendinitis by throwing during the break in hopes of returning to active duty on July 23 after the minimum 15 days on the disabled list.

Barring setbacks, Furbush will have one or two bullpen workouts next weekend in New York and pitch in a simulated inning next week in Detroit. He isn’t expected to require a minor-league rehab assignment.

Furbush is 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 33 appearances and has stranded all 16 inherited runners.

THE 20-100 CLUB

Nelson Cruz got three hits in Saturday’s victory and joined a select (if obscure) club by becoming just the fifth different Mariner to reach the All-Star break with 20 homers and 100 hits.

He has 21 and 101.

The last player to do it was Bret Boone in 2003 with 24 homers and 114 hits. Boone also did it in 2001.

Ken Griffey Jr. did it four times (1993, 1994, 1998 and 1999), while Edgar Martinez (1996 and 2000) and Alex Rodriguez (1998 and 2000) each did it twice.

BEST AT THE BREAK

Reliever Mark Lowe lowered his ERA to 0.64 by pitching the ninth inning in Saturday’s 5-0 victory over the Angels.

That is the lowest ERA in franchise history at the break for any pitcher with at least 25 appearances. The previous best of 0.77 by Shigetoshi Hasegawa in 2003. J.J. Putz had a 0.88 ERA in 2007 at the break.

ALL-STAR ASSIGNMENTS

Right-hander Felix Hernandez, designated hitter Cruz and manager McClendon departed after the game for Cincinnati to participate in the All-Star Game on Tuesday at Great American Ball Park.

It is the sixth appearance for Hernandez, who will learn Monday whether he will start for the American League for the second consecutive year. Cruz is a four-time pick and starting for the second consecutive year.

McClendon will serve as an AL coach on the staff of Kansas City manager Ned Yost. The game starts at 4 p.m. (PDT).

LOOKING BACK

It was 13 years ago Monday — July 13, 2002 — that Ichiro Suzuki produced the first multi-homer game of his career when he hit two in a 4-3 walk-off loss at Tampa Bay in 10 innings.

Both of Suzuki’s homers came against Devil Rays starter Tanyon Sturtze. The first was leading off the game; the second was leading off the third inning.

Suzuki has seven two-homer games in his 2,287-game career. The first six came while playing for the Mariners.

SHORT HOPS

Outfielder Franklin Gutierrez was scratched from the lineup just prior to the game because of back soreness. … Seth Smith had the eighth pinch-hit homer of his career. It was also the first pinch homer by a Mariner since Rickie Weeks on April 12 at Oakland. … Shortstop Brad Miller was 2 for 4 for his sixth multi-hit effort in his past 15 games. … ’s winning streak ended at five games. It was the longest streak this season by a Mariners pitcher. … Angels left-hander , who limited the Mariners to one run in seven innings Friday, was added to the AL All-Star team as a replacement for Oakland’s , who pitched Sunday at Cleveland. … Hisashi Iwakuma’s eight shutout innings Saturday marked his 17th scoreless start over the past four seasons. That matches Chicago lefty Chris Sale for the second-highest total among American League pitchers in that span. The leader? Hernandez with 24.

ON TAP

The Mariners have a four-day break for the All-Star Game prior to opening a three-game series Friday against the Yankees in New York. That road trip continues with four games in Detroit.

The pitching match-ups aren’t set for Friday, although it’s a good bet the Yankees will start right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (5-3, 3.63). The game starts at 4:05 p.m. Pacific time at Yankee Stadium.

The Mariners aren’t back at Safeco Field until July 24, when they open a three-game weekend series against Toronto.

bob.dutton@thenewstribune.com

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