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Robinson Cano, Now a Veteran Leader, Off To a Hot Start With Diablos Rojos

 Leif Skodnick  |    Apr 16th, 2024 10:16pm EDT

Robinson Cano is all smiles in the Diablos Rojos dugout after going 4-for-4 with a walk and an RBI in an 8-5 win over the Tigres de Quintana Roo. (Photo Courtesy of the Diablos Rojos del Mexico)

MEXICO CITY – It was 11:30 p.m. Monday, and the Diablos Rojos had just won their home opener 8-5 over the Tigres de Quintana Roo.

Manager Lorenzo Bundy walked by the team’s weight room, and there was Robinson Cano, a veteran of 18 seasons in Major League Baseball, doing a lower body workout before going home.

And while it may sound like some self-punishment, Cano deserved anything but punishment after his performance Monday night, which saw him go 4-for-4 with a walk and an RBI.

It’s good to be able to get a chance out here, you know, and go out there and produce... to [help] the team to win a game,” Cano said. 

The season is young. The Diablos Rojos and 4-0.

And Cano? He’s hitting .583/.643/.833 with a 1.476 OPS. It’s hard to imagine a hotter start to a season for any player.

“The goal is for the team to win a championship,” Cano said. “I don’t care about personal stats. It’s just, you know, my commitment was to come here and help the team to win a championship.”

He’s nearly two years removed from a dismal 2022 season, his last in Major League Baseball, where he bounced from the New York Mets to the San Diego Padres to the Atlanta Braves, hitting .150/.183/.190 in 33 games, hitting one homer and driving in four runs.

He had a decent showing at the 2023 Caribbean Series in Caracas, where he batted .286 with three doubles and three RBI for the Dominican Republic’s Tigres del Licey, who won the title.

Returning to the LIDOM’s Estrellas Orientales this past winter, Cano struggled, batting .182 in 24 games, hitting five doubles, and driving in seven runs.

And then, suddenly, he returned to form at the 2024 Caribbean Series in Miami, earning All-Tournament honors after batting .357 in eight games with a homer and five RBIs.

Is he back to his old form?

So far this season, it certainly looks like it.

And at nearly 42, he’s embraced his role as the elder statesman in the clubhouse.

He’s just trying to keep himself ready and do all the things,” Bundy said of Cano’s leadership. “But he just shows how to go about his business and take care of himself, and every time he gets four hits, everybody does it. Now I’m kind of used to it.”

The eight-time MLB All-Star and 2013 World Baseball Classic MVP has won championships before a World Series with the New York Yankees in 2009, a World Baseball Classic with the Dominican Republic in 2013, and Caribbean Series titles in 2021 and 2023.

If the 41-year-old has another stellar season in the tank and keeps hitting and leading the way for Bundy’s younger players, the veteran manager knows what is possible.

After all, he did win the Serie del Rey, as the Liga Mexicana de Beisbol’s championship series is known in Mexico, twice as a member of the Diablos Rojos in 1987 and 1988, and was part of another club that won the LMB title in 1985.

We can’t put a price on it. Robby is the ultimate professional. He’s the ultimate leader,” Bundy said. “Obviously, Robbie didn’t come here to play to make money. He came here to win a championship. He has a passion for baseball that is second to none. I am so fortunate to have him on my team.”