Cano feeling 'way, way better' after first spring homer

All-Star second baseman hits two-run shot off Angels prospect Smith

Cano feeling 'way, way better' after first spring homer

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Robinson Cano wasted little time cranking his first home run of Cactus League play on Saturday as the Mariners second baseman jumped on a first-inning pitch from Angels left-hander Nate Smith and drove it onto the right-field berm at Peoria Stadium.

Cano had just one home run in 19 Cactus League games last season, but hit his first in his fifth at-bat this spring during a 9-7 loss to the Angels. The 33-year-old says he feels renewed after double hernia surgery in the offseason cleared up some lingering health issues.

"Honestly, I feel way, way better," said the six-time All-Star. "Last year I wasn't able to use my hips the way I'm using them right now. I watched some video when I was home. I'm moving really good compared to the way I was last year. This is a lot better."

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Cano got off to a bad start in 2015, hitting just .238 in the first three months. He finished strong at the plate with a .330 average over his final 82 games, but wasn't running or moving well due to the hernia problem.

He acknowledged some stomach issues plagued him in the first half last year, but those are all squared away as well.

"I didn't have my energy, it was hard to eat," Cano said. "I didn't understand the situation. Sometimes I'd wake up in the middle of the night with acid reflux. I didn't know what it was or how to deal with it."

Given a clean start this year, Cano has looked impressive in camp as he begins his third year with the Mariners.

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"Robbie has the bounce in his step," said new manager Scott Servais. "He looks great. I think he feels good, physically, and it's shown in the workouts. Obviously, he squared that ball up today. He's going to have a big year, there's no doubt."

Cano's two-run shot was the third straight hit by the Mariners to open the game against Smith, a late fill-in for an ill Andrew Heaney. He went 1-for-3 before being replaced in the fifth inning and is hitting .286 (2-for-7) in his first three Cactus League outings.

The home run was a good sign, but Cano says the important thing is just feeling healthy and getting locked in at the plate.

"You want to feel good from the beginning because you're going to have to figure out what you're doing wrong or whatnot," he said. "But for me, feeling good is not going out and hitting homers or getting hits, it's how I hit the ball."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB, read his Mariners Musings blog, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.