July 21, 2018 / 4:48 AM / 3 months ago

Mariners GM Dipoto: Cano could play 1B upon return

Robinson Cano’s return to the Seattle Mariners’ lineup when he becomes eligible Aug. 14 may include a change of position, according to general manager Jerry Dipoto.

Aug 23, 2016; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano (22) hits a single against the New York Yankees during the fourth inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports / Reuters Picture Supplied by Action Images

Without their everyday second baseman in the lineup, the Mariners have turned to Dee Gordon at second. Gordon isn’t likely to relinquish that spot even when Cano returns in mid-August, meaning the Mariners might shift Cano to first in order to get his bat in a lineup that desperately needs more pop.

“There may be a time, especially mid-August to the end of the season where slides out to center field for a day,” Dipoto said. “But primarily he’s going to play second base. We sat down and talked with Robbie, and he said again, ‘Whatever I need to help this team get to the postseason.’ He was great about it.”

The Mariners are in the thick of playoff race, entering Friday trailing the Houston Astros by five games in the American League West while sitting in a tie with the New York Yankees at the top of the AL wild-card standings.

At first base, Cano would replace current starter Ryon Healy, who is hitting .240/.270/.447 with 18 home runs and 46 RBIs.

“Robbie has really good hands,” Dipoto said. “So I think transitioning to first base as an alternative position is something that once he does it once, he’ll realize how good he can be at it.”

Cano, 35, was suspended 80 games after he tested positive for the banned substance furosemide, a diuretic which is often used to help mask banned substances in urine tests. He began serving his suspension in May.

The eight-time All-Star is working out in his native Dominican Republic, training for his return to Seattle’s lineup with former major-leaguers and young prospects at a baseball facility he and his father own. He’ll likely begin an official rehab stint in the minor leagues before rejoining the Mariners’ lineup once he is eligible to return from his suspension. While Cano can help the Mariners make a playoff push, he is not eligible to participate in the postseason.

The Mariners, who have longest playoff drought in major American sports — last reaching the playoffs in 2001 — were 23-17 when Cano was suspended and have gone 35-22 since. Most of that success centered on the starting pitching, and the offense struggled, amassing the worst run differential among any of the playoff contenders.

—Field Level Media

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