The fans -- located in the right-center field bleachers -- seemingly honored the All-Star second baseman at first, greeting Cano with a traditional roll call in the bottom of the first inning Tuesday night. Cano acknowledged the salute.
But after goading Cano to turn, the fans began a new tune: "You sold out! You sold out! You sold out!"
The Mariners then proceeded to beat the Yankees 6-3. Cano had an infield hit in five at-bats, an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base.
"You're always going to hear more of the boos than the cheers," Cano said. "That's something that I can't control. Like I say, it's not a distraction to me."
Upon his first return to Yankee Stadium as a Seattle Mariner, Cano was mostly booed and taunted by the fans he starred in front of for nearly a decade. The crowd was sparse by Yankee Stadium standards on a damp, frigid Tuesday night, but it was loud, booing Cano his entire first at-bat and switching to cheers when CC Sabathia struck him out on a 1-2 pitch.
"It's New York," Sabathia said of the fans' reaction to Cano.
During the at-bat, while most booed, some stood up and clapped. Sabathia added he was unsurprised by the negativity. Cano had said on "The Tonight Show" that he hoped to receive a standing ovation.
Prior to the game, wearing a Seattle Mariners cap and sporting a beard he was forbidden to grow per New York Yankees policy, the All-Star second baseman declined to answer any questions about his winter breakup from the only franchise he had known. While he said he is happy with the choice he made, he didn't want to discuss it any further.
"I don't want to talk about the past," Cano said repeatedly.
Cano admitted Seattle is "different" than New York, beginning with the 27 championships the Yankees have won compared to the Mariners' empty trophy case. Cano said he remains satisfied he chose the Mariners' 10-year, $240 million deal instead of the Yankees' seven-year, $175 million offer.
"I can't control the Yankees," said Cano, who is hitting .296 with a homer and 12 RBIs. "I can control myself. They made a decision and I guess we're both happy, because I'm happy where I'm at right now and I'm happy to be a Mariner, and good luck to them."
The Yankees had no plans for a video tribute for Cano on Tuesday. The team's thought process, according to a person briefed on the discussions, was that they have not acknowledged others in such a fashion in the past. Cano's case was a bit different because no players have left the team after the Yankees were outbid by tens of millions.
The Yankees were leaving it up to their fans to determine how Cano should be received. Cano tried to tip the scales a little in his favor as he planned on having more than 100 family and friends attend, while also purchasing tickets for a couple of hundred Bronx Little Leaguers.
On Monday, Cano engaged some fans in a skit for "The Tonight Show." During it, New Yorkers were asked to boo a cardboard cutout of Cano. After which, Cano appeared out of a phone booth-like box behind it. The surprised fans all then welcomed Cano openly.
"I had fun with it," Cano said. "That was a thing that, I had a great experience. I know I'm not a Yankee anymore. I have to understand that fans, they're not going to cheer for you. They're going to boo you because you're on the opposite team. The last thing they want is you to come here and do well. I have to understand that. And I have."
The Yankees and Cano broke up with some acrimony. The Cano side did not like that their initial $300-plus million contract proposal ended up in media reports. They also would have liked the Yankees to up their offer from $175 million to $235 million so Cano could have stayed in the Bronx at a $5 million discount.
The Yankees wouldn't budge and some in the hierarchy weren't thrilled to later read that Cano felt the team did not show him respect.
"$175 million is a lot of money for seven years," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I think we've always respected Robbie Cano and his talents and will continue to respect Robbie Cano and his talents. I think you'll see that with how we try to pitch to him. We're not just going to put it right down the middle of the plate. As far as not respecting Robbie, I think we all respect Robbie."
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