THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Cano has always been comfortable at Fenway

By Michael Vega
Globe Staff / April 11, 2011

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Robinson Cano could not put his finger on it.

After going 3 for 5 with a double, a solo home run, and two runs in Saturday’s 9-4 trouncing of the Red Sox, the Yankees second baseman was at a loss to explain why, of all the major league ballparks, Fenway Park seems to bring out the best in him.

“I don’t know,’’ he shrugged. “I think it’s luck.’’

Luck? There had to be more to it than that.

There had to be another reason why Cano hits so well — and at will — in Fenway, where he has a career .366 batting average (85 for 232) with 35 runs, 21 doubles, 11 home runs, and 48 RBIs in 55 games. Cano’s average ranked as the best by any Yankee, all time, with at least 200 at-bats at Fenway.

“Well, he hits everywhere he plays,’’ said shortstop Derek Jeter. “But probably here, I would think with the wall in left field probably makes him not want to pull the ball that much. But he pulled the ball [Saturday], obviously.’’

Jeter was referring to the homer Cano hit to right in the sixth inning against Alfredo Aceves.

“His mind-set is to stay up the middle or go the other way,’’ Jeter said. “When he’s doing that, that’s when he’s at his best.’’

Of the eight big-league ballparks where Cano’s had at least 100 at-bats, including both the old and new Yankee Stadiums, Cano hits best at Baltimore’s Camden Yards (.376). But Fenway isn’t far off, and Cano has one more homer there than he does at Camden Yards.

“It’s a [personal] favorite when you can hit in the ballpark,’’ Cano said. “You still got to go out and play. There’s nothing special that I do. I just do the same thing.’’

“I don’t think I’ve ever gotten him out, to be honest,’’ said the Red Sox’ Clay Buchholz, who gave up a double off the wall and a single to right in Cano’s first two at-bats Saturday. “He can hit any pitch you can throw. He has quick hands and he can manipulate the bat to do anything he wants it to do, for the most part.’’

Cano is hitting a gaudy .529 (9 for 17) against Buchholz in his career. He entered last night’s game with a .339 average (and three home runs) against Sox starter Josh Beckett. He collected a single in three trips against Beckett in last night’s 4-0 Sox win.

“Yeah, he’s a tough out,’’ Buchholz said. “He’ll hit the ball hard at somebody and make somebody make a play on it. He’s got power to all fields. He’s just a good hitter.’’

Of all the dangerous hitters who populate the Yankees’ lineup, it is Cano who poses the biggest threat at Fenway.

“I know I do really good here when I play, but like I say, it’s due to luck,’’ Cano said. “There are some ballparks where you go and have success.’’

But does he see the ball differently at Fenway than anywhere else?

“Honestly, no,’’ Cano said. “You know it just might be that you have to be 110 percent focused on these guys because they don’t waste their time. When they can do some damage, they do it. They don’t mess around.’’

Whenever he digs into the batter’s box at Fenway Park, neither does Robinson Cano.

Michael Vega can be reached at vega@globe.com.

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