Dustin Pedroia or Robinson Cano? That's been a question Red Sox and Yankees fans have debated since both saw their careers take off in spectacular fashion. It's also one that you probably won't see much discussion of anymore, now that Cano has headed west to Seattle and the Mariners. Retired Yankees legend Mariano Rivera cast his vote for his preferred second baseman in his new book "The Closer", though, and he picked Pedroia over former teammate Cano.
The New York Daily News has the excerpts in question:
Rivera says Red Sox Dustin Pedroia is "at the top of the list" of players he admires, adding: "Nobody plays harder, gives more, wants to win more. He comes at you hard for twenty-seven outs. It's a special thing to see."
He later writes, "If I have to win one game, I'd have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman."
Pedroia is basically out of his mind with a desire to be on the field, and it's obviously apparent to the opposition as well. Seeing Rivera, who had been in the league over parts of three decades, appreciate someone like Pedey is wonderful, but not altogether shocking. What's maybe a surprise is that Rivera put down Cano in the same book:
"This guy has so much talent I don't know where to start... There is no doubt that he is a Hall-of-Fame caliber (player). It's just a question of whether he finds the drive you need to get there. I don't think Robby burns to be the best... You don't see that red-hot passion in him that you see in most elite players."
Rivera wouldn't be the first Yankee to claim Cano doesn't go all-in -- hitting coach Kevin Long has spoken unfavorably of Cano in these regards in the past, and there were whispers this past off-season that the Yankees didn't want to commit Mariners' money* to a player they didn't think would give it his all. Those are unsubstantiated, of course, but this is the city of Derek Jeter we're talking about.
*Now there's a weird phrase.
Regardless of hustle, we probably shouldn't be surprised that Rivera prefers Dustin Pedroia to Robinson Cano. Mo is a Yankee to the end: he probably just counted the rings.