It’s been six-plus weeks now that Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano has been playing through the limitations of a strained abdominal muscle.
“Any time that I force it,” he said, “I can feel it a little bit. Every time I run I feel it, but then it just goes away.”
Cano said he feels it most when he attempts a quick first step, either in breaking from the batter’s box or in pursuit of a ground ball. While he doesn’t believe it’s getting worse, neither is it getting better.
“It’s the same thing,” he said. “It just hasn’t gone away. It’s just every time I run, it feels the same.”
The strain surfaced in late July, and Cano missed three games before returning Aug. 1 as a designated hitter. Two days later, he was back in the field.
“He’s a tough SOB,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It’s unfortunate that (some) people think he’s dogging it. He’s not. He’s actually showing up and posting up every day when most people wouldn’t be able to go.
“He’s been productive as well.”
Cano was batting .315, prior to Monday, in 40 games since returning to the lineup. He also had a .369 on-base percentage and a .463 slugging percentage during that span.
“He’s going to have the (abdominal strain) the rest of the year,” McClendon said. “He’ll continue to grind it out. And at the season’s end, he’ll rest up, rehab and be ready next spring.”
McClendon said he doesn’t foresee Cano taking much, if any, rest over the final three weeks.
“Probably not,” McClendon said. “These games are so important. I just don’t see it happening.”
That’s fine with Cano.
“I love this game,” he said, “so, like I tell Lloyd, I mean, if I’m out in the field and my legs are tired, I’ll tell him, ‘I need a day today.’ But I mean, most of the time (when) it feels worse is after the game.
“And also, I want to play this game. So if I get a chance I’ll be out there every day.”
FURBUSH IS CLEMENTE NOMINEE
Left-hander Charlie Furbush, recovering from a slight tear in his rotator cuff, is the Mariners’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes achievements on and off the field.
Among other charitable acts, Furbush served the past two years as host for the Mariners Care Cystic Fibrosis Golf Tournament, which raised more than $410,000 for research.
Furbush, 29, is in his fifth season and was 1-1 with a 2.08 ERA in 33 games when he was placed on the disabled list following a July 7 appearance.
Fans can help determine the award’s winner, beginning Wednesday, in an online vote at www.ChevyBaseball.com. Online voting runs through Oct. 9. The winner will be announced at the World Series.
The award dates to 1971 but was renamed in Clemente’s memory in 1973 following his death in a plane crash on Dec. 31, 1972, while delivering supplies to victims of a Nicaraguan earthquake.
Three Mariners have received the award, second baseman Harold Reynolds (1991), left-hander Jamie Moyer (2003) and designated hitter Edgar Martinez (2004).
CANO AMONG FINALISTS
Thanks to fan support in an online vote, Cano is one of seven finalists for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year award, which is presented annually by the players union.
The online vote determines one finalist from the five club nominees in each division. Cano beat out George Springer (Houston), Joe Smith (Los Angeles), Tumwater resident Stephen Vogt (Oakland) and Robinson Chirinos (Texas).
There was a tie among two American League Central nominees — hence, seven finalists. An overall winner will be selected in a players vote as part of the Players Choice Awards.
The other finalists: Miguel Cabrera (Detroit), Dee Gordon (Miami), former Mariners prospect Adam Jones (Baltimore), David Robertson (Chicago White Sox), Skip Schumaker (Cincinnati) and Justin Turner (Los Angeles Dodgers).
COUNTING IT DOWN
Nelson Cruz and Cano are chasing milestones in hitting as the regular season heads into its final three weeks.
Cruz entered Monday’s series opener against the Angels with 163 hits — three shy of his career-high 166 set last season at Baltimore. He already has a career-high 41 home runs.
Entering Monday, Cano needs 10 more hits in the season’s final 18 games to reach 2,000 for his career. He would become just the 14th player in major league history to reach that milestone in his first 11 seasons.
Three Mariners prospects were selected in the recent draft for the Dominican Winter League. The draft is for Dominican players who, for the first time, have played a full season in an affiliated minor league.
▪ Outfielder Estarlyn Morales, 22, was picked in the 11th round by Gigantes. He played primarily at Single-A Clinton this season, where he batted .256 with five homers and 53 RBIs in 104 games.
▪ Right-handed pitcher Ronald Dominguez, 21, went to Aquilas in the 12th round. He also spent most of the season at Clinton, where he was 2-3 with four saves and a 2.72 ERA in 27 relief appearances.
▪ Right-hander Ramire Cleto, 22, was Escogido’s 18th-round pick. He made just three appearances at Clinton before undergoing Tommy John surgery in early May.
It was 26 years ago Tuesday — Sept. 15, 1989 — that Major League Baseball approved the sale of the Mariners from George Argyros to a group headed by Jeff Smulyan.
The Smulyan group owned the club for less than three years.
Utilityman Brad Miller remains slowed by neck spasms, which forced him to be scratched from Sunday’s game against Colorado. … The Mariners compiled a 2.92 ERA in their first 12 games in September, which, prior to Monday, was the lowest mark in the majors. Their bullpen ERA of 1.70 during that span ranked second to San Francisco’s 1.23 mark. The second-lowest mark among American League clubs was Texas at 2.32. … The Mariners are 27-23 in one-run games after Sunday’s 3-2 loss to Colorado. They have played 354 one-run games over the past seven years, which ties the Chicago White Sox for the most among AL clubs. The Mariners are 171-183 in those games.
The Mariners and Angels continue their three-game series at 7:10 p.m. Tuesday at Safeco Field.
Right-hander Felix Hernandez (17-8, 3.49 ERA) looks to take over sole possession of the American League lead in victories when he faces Los Angeles right-hander Nick Tropeano (1-2, 5.66).
COMPLETE LIST OF CLEMENTE AWARD NOMINEES
Arizona Diamondbacks: Paul Goldschmidt
Atlanta Braves: Jason Grilli
Baltimore Orioles: Brian Matusz
Boston Red Sox: Brock Holt
Chicago Cubs: Anthony Rizzo
Chicago White Sox: David Robertson
Cincinnati Reds: J.J. Hoover
Cleveland Indians: Carlos Carrasco
Colorado Rockies: Kyle Kendrick
Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera
Houston Astros: George Springer
Kansas City Royals: Alex Gordon
Los Angeles Angels: Hector Santiago
Los Angeles Dodgers: Adrian Gonzalez
Miami Marlins: Dee Gordon
Milwaukee Brewers: Jonathan Lucroy
Minnesota Twins: Torii Hunter
New York Mets: Curtis Granderson
New York Yankees: Mark Teixeira
Oakland Athletics: Stephen Vogt
Philadelphia Phillies: Ryan Howard
Pittsburgh Pirates: Andrew McCutchen
St. Louis Cardinals: Adam Wainwright
San Diego Padres: Andrew Cashner
San Francisco Giants: Javier Lopez
Seattle Mariners: Charlie Furbush
Tampa Bay Rays: Chris Archer
Texas Rangers: Adrian Beltre
Toronto Blue Jays: Jose Bautista
Washington Nationals: Denard Span