CAP CANA, Dominican Republic — Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano doesn’t play golf. But he attends the David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic every year to support a man he has come to regard like an older brother.
Cano readily admits that he has no personal enmity for any of the Red Sox players. The rivalry exists more in the hearts of the fans than it does on the field. Cano would even happily welcome former Red Sox infielder Kevin Youkilis to the Yankees.
Youkilis, who was traded to the White Sox in June, is a free agent and weighing offers from the Yankees and Indians. New York has $12 million on the table for one season, Cleveland $18 million for two years.
The Indians offer a chance for Youkilis to play for Terry Francona again. He also is from Ohio, having been born in Cincinnati. But choosing the Yankees means having a better chance at returning to the postseason.
With Alex Rodriguez expected to miss at least half the coming season because of a left hip injury that will require surgery, Youkilis could play a significant role with the Yankees.
Seeing Youkilis in pinstripes would be strange. But Cano hopes that will be the choice Youkilis makes.
“Everything stays on the field. I’ve gotten a chance to talk to him and he’s a nice guy. I’ve had a chance to meet him at the All-Star Game, and he always seemed cool in talking with everybody,” Cano said. “There’s some guys that, the way they play the game, you say this guy is not a nice person. But he’s a great person.”
Youkilis has antagonized the Yankees over the years with his aggressive style and it’s probably no coincidence that their pitchers have hit him 17 times, five times last season alone.
Joba Chamberlain sailed two fastballs over Youkilis’ head in 2007 and was suspended for two games. Youkilis has to be restrained when he stepped toward the mound in 2008 after Chamberlin threw a pitch up and in that sent him sprawling in the dirt.
Cano laughed at the idea of Youkilis sharing a clubhouse with Chamberlain.
“It would be nice,” he said. “But those kind of things, I don’t think [Chamberlain] ever hit him on purpose. I would tell you that he would be the first guy who would be happy to see him on our team because we know he’s the kind of guy who would help us a lot because he’s been in a situation like that before. He can hit and he plays the game the right way.”
Cano will be a free agent after the season. At 30, he is in the prime of his career and stands as one of the best second basemen in the game. He also has enlisted Scott Boras as his agent.
Already there is talk that Cano will not give the Yankees any discount and will be difficult to sign.
“I’ve never been in that position before. I hear guys say it isn’t fun when you’re going to be a free agent. But I’ve got another year and I’ve got to go out there and perform and help the team win a championship again,” he said.
“You always want to stay with your people. But this is a game and it’s a business. It’s a business and we’ll see what happens.”