BY Art Thiel 05:00PM 07/15/2018

Thiel: Looking for a little honesty from Cano

Heading into the All-Star break, Mariners are slumping, and Robinson Cano whiffed on his chance to come clean about why he was busted. It’s not too late for team or player.

Robinson Cano could have helped himself by being honest. / Alan Chitlik, Sportspress Northwest

Entering the All-Star break, much is to like about the Mariners. Much is to panic about the Mariners too.

Despite a 22-6 run during May and June that made them the favorite for the second wild-card spot, the Mariners (58-39) have dropped eight of the past 11, including Sunday’s 4-3 loss in Denver that completed a sweep for the 51-45 National League Rockies (box).

The slump puts them closer to the third-place Oakland A’s than the first-place Astros. None of that bothers me. It’s just baseball, and a real race.

What pisses me off is Robinson Cano.

His 80-game suspension for cheating MLB’s drug rules — please, let’s call it what it is, and not “a mistake” — was a blow that becomes more consequential now that the Mariners have fallen back.

In partial compensation for his absence, the Mariners made a trade in mid-May that looked good, getting OF Denard Span and set-up reliever Alex Colome from Tampa Bay, easing the move of CF Dee Gordon to Cano’s spot at second base.

The cost was two minor league pitching prospects, Andrew Moore and Tommy Romero. The trade still looks good, but it also depleted assets from a thin farm system that could have been useful in trade, now that the pitching staff is fraying as the July 31 trade deadline looms.

Personnel shortfalls caused by Cano’s foolishness are just part of the story. His unwillingness to come clean about playing dirty is another. He had a chance July 7 in his first meeting with local media to start some bridge-building since his suspension. He whiffed.

He read from a statement:

“The city of Seattle has become my second home for my family and I. I’m grateful to the organization, my teammates and the fans and as you guys know, I’ve been getting tested for the last 12 seasons and I’ve never had an issue with MLB policy. I was being treated for some medical ailments and I was being supervised by a doctor. But at the same time, I understand that everything that goes into my body, I’m responsible for that.

I wanted to apologize genuinely to the city of Seattle and to all the fans, and the young baseball players in the States and the DR (Dominican Republic) and most importantly to my teammates. I wanted to show my face to you guys. I don’t think for me it’s fair to just come back and walk into the clubhouse. I’m here now to take questions. One thing I want you to know, because of my agreement with MLB, I’m not allowed to go into details.”

Reading that — I didn’t hear or see it, because Cano and the Mariners invited only selected beat reporters, and forbade video or audio to be broadcast or streamed — I was not impressed.

Nor were his answers good to subsequent questions, none of which produced answers to why he did what he did — unless you think that describing the suspension as the “hardest thing” he’s gone through since the death of his grandfather illuminates anything.

I don’t care what the alleged agreement is with MLB, or how sorry Cano feels. If he wanted to tell the truth, nothing stops him from saying he took a banned masking agent, the diuretic furosemide, that covered up a performance-enhancing drug he hoped would help his 35-year-old body do better.

Most players using PEDs don’t do it to add Barry Bonds-style muscle. They do it to recover faster from fatigue and minor injuries. Please don’t think Roger Clemens in his late 30s took PEDs to push his fastball from 97 to 99 mph. Clemens, Cano and most of the rest of the busted users are desperate to stay at peak levels for the money and what they rationalize as the needs of teammates, franchise and fans.

But it was his teammates, as union members, and team owners who agreed in collective bargaining that using PEDs for any reason was wrong. Period.

It doesn’t matter about how sorry he is, how bad he feels, how difficult it is to watch games on TV.


I can’t help but think of the scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail when Arthur, King of the  Britons, encounters an animated God appearing between clouds in the heavens, and Arthur drops to his knees in supplication.

“Oh, don’t grovel,” God says. “One thing I can’t stand, it’s people groveling.”

ARTHUR: Sorry.

GOD: And don’t apologize. Every time I try to talk to someone, it’s ‘sorry this,’ and ‘forgive me that’ and ‘I’m not worthy.’

What are you doing now?!

ARTHUR: I’m averting my eyes, O Lord.

GOD: Well, don’t. It’s like those miserable Psalms — they’re so depressing. Now, knock it off!

ARTHUR: Yes, Lord.

Get the picture? Being sorry is understandable, but it gets no one anywhere. Explaining how you’ve suffered is, well, insufferable. Just be honest and get on with it, man.

Pleading ignorance? Depressing as the Psalms.

Even general manager Jerry Dipoto said so. In an interview after the suspension was announced, he said, “One thing I can’t support is not knowing. We have the ability to check into that; pick up the phone and call the people in our high-performance office.”

Cano didn’t care enough to want to know. Despite the fact that he hadn’t before been busted, and despite claims he was under care of a doctor (publicly unidentified) in the Dominican, he is a member of a union that has agreed to play by the rules, and is hired by a club willing to help him do so.

But he ignored the stop signs and crossed the railroad tracks. He and the Mariners are still picking up the pieces. It’s a tribute to players and management that the club was playing better in his absence. But it’s a long season, and a team doesn’t survive its length easily losing a .287-hitting infielder with power. From June 2 to July 3, Gordon’s primary replacement in center, Guillermo Heredia, hit .138.

Cano returns from suspension Aug. 14 a chastened man without a position, given Gordon’s superior play on defense. Players and fans are entitled to decide the degree of re-embrace. Manager Scott Servais need show him no deference regarding playing time.

After news broke about the suspension, Cano could have done them all a little favor by being direct and honest with why he did what he did. That would allow those who choose to do so, to move on to enjoying his play as part of an entertaining season.

In fact, he still has time to take another swing at it.


  • Mark Stratton

    Right on Art. The non-apology is worse than anything.

    • art thiel

      He’s trying to talk his way back into good graces. Start with candor.

      • (redacted)

        I believe Cruz and Dee both owned up to it right away.

  • Ed Norton

    For Cano to say that he was under a doctor’s care in the Dominican Republic is irrelevant. What doctor in the D.R., or in the U.S. for that matter, would know what drugs are banned under the MLB Joint Drug Agreement (JDA)?

    The MLB Players Association website has a lot of information on the JDA.
    Furosemide is specifically listed as a diuretic and masking agent and is therefore a Banned Substance, as described on the website. Literally a one minute search yielded this information. Cano could have found this information just as easily as I did, if he was really interested in finding it.

    • art thiel

      Multiple sources beyond the club can tell him the banned list. The US Anti-Doping Agency provides a wallet card for all athletes. It’s embarrassing to not know.

  • ReebHerb

    Cano was caught once but he took the magic medicine more than once. After paying the penalty of 80 games missed, I’m okay with him coming back but it looks to be disruptive at the very least. The Mariners shouldn’t pass up any trade offers. His salary is a sunk cost and the Mariners will have to eat most of it. A fresh start might be best for both entities. Start restocking the farm. The M’s look really tired now but they’re fun to follow.

    • art thiel

      No one is buying the rest of Cano’s $240M contract. And no one knows how he’ll hit after the layoff. He could hit .350 with all that rest.

      • Husky73

        It was a non-denial denial. (All The President’s Men)

      • ReebHerb

        Yep. That’s why it is called a sunk cost. Would someone be willing to give up a couple prospects and pay $5 million per year of that contract as long as he was able to play? Is there plans to send him to Tacoma for a few games?

        • art thiel


  • tor5

    Well said, Art. I’m disappointed in the cheating but can understand it at a certain level. But the subsequent lying and reading extremely lame BS statements that dance around the truth is the bigger slap in the face to fans, teammates and the game.

    • art thiel

      As Nixon established, it’s not necessarily the crime, it;s the coverup.

  • Husky73

    A shrubbery?

    • art thiel

      So you are a Knight who says Ni?

      • David Freiboth

        I’m not dead yet!

      • David Freiboth

        See what you’ve started Author …

      • GuyBird

        The M’s will recover. It’s only a flesh wound!

  • jafabian

    Truth and honesty is always the way to move past a PR nightmare. Cano’s explanation has too many holes to take it at face value. He can at least be a catalyst that gives the team the spark it needs for a playoff push when he returns. Sad that he didn’t believe in himself enough so as to pass on using any PED’s when fans and teammates always have.

    • art thiel

      You may notice that dishonesty is trending these days.

      • rosetta_stoned

        “If you like your honesty, you can keep your honesty. Period.”

  • Richard Musser

    Can I just ask, why do you think it would help, or be important for Cano to say why he took the drugs? You just sort of leave it there, assuming this information is important, without explaining why it is or why Cano should have done that. This begs the question by assuming that such an effort is important. Can you explain more?

  • Effzee

    “… the Mariners (58-39) have dropped eight of the past 11…” I’m predicting an epic collapse. A 1995-in-reverse, if you will. Because Mariners.