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Thursday, May 25, 2006

Looking for Melky? Look for Cano--Tyler Kepner

"If you want to find Melky Cabrera, just look for Robinson Canó. Chances are Cabrera will be with him.

"They're like shadows of each other," said Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees' third baseman. "I call him 'The Shadow.' They're always together, tied at the hip."

Canó and Cabrera live in the same apartment complex in New Jersey, and when the Yankees play at home, Canó drives Cabrera to the games. On the road, they are all but inseparable.

Canó carried a bat around the Fenway Park clubhouse Wednesday afternoon. So did Cabrera. They went out to the batting cage under the center-field stands for early hitting practice, and as they walked across the field after finishing, the Boston stars Manny Ramírez and David Ortiz intercepted them for hugs and friendly banter.

Did Canó have a minute to talk about Cabrera? Not yet. "I have to go show him something on the computer," Canó said. But first, he and Cabrera sat in the dugout for a long chat with the first-base coach Tony Peña.

"When you come to the big leagues, sometimes you find yourself lost," Peña said. "But having Canó around, he's really taken care of Cabrera."

Wednesday's game was a revelation. Cabrera came in with a .306 average, and he had already been proving himself, working an 11-pitch walk to wear down the Mets' Billy Wagner in the ninth inning of a comeback victory last Saturday.

But on Wednesday, after sitting out the previous game, Cabrera hit leadoff to give Johnny Damon a rest. Cabrera singled twice and drove in four runs, leading the Yankees to an 8-6 victory, their second in three games against the Red Sox. Cabrera said that an off-season of winter ball at home in the Dominican Republic helped. The presence of Canó, another Dominican just two years older than he is, is also important.

"If I have something to say to him, I'll bring over Robby and he'll explain it to him," said the infield coach Larry Bowa. "That's good for Robby, too. Even though he's still a young kid, it means he's maturing a little bit and taking on some responsibility."

Canó, the 23-year-old second baseman, has been Bowa's pupil since spring training. Canó has hit well, at .299, sometimes batting fifth in the lineup because of injuries. He made just one error through May 16, but had four in his past eight games.

"His feet are too close together, so he's not getting good jumps," Bowa said. "He's a project for the year. He shows you all that ability, but he's only got a little bit over a year in the big leagues. People forget that. He's going to be fine."

Based on the early showing of his second major league act, Cabrera may be fine, too." NYTimes, 5/26/06

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