Cano hits 3 home runs, drives in 7

Second baseman cites health as key to strong spring

Cano hits 3 home runs, drives in 7

MESA, Ariz. -- Robinson Cano continued his torrid spring with a trio of home runs in Sunday's 12-9 win over the Cubs at Sloan Park as the Mariners second baseman looks to rebound from a subpar 2015.

Cano hit a soaring two-run homer to right field in the first and drove a three-run opposite-field shot to left in the second, both off Cubs starter Jason Hammel, then finished the day with a two-run blast to left-center off reliever Trevor Cahill in the eighth.

"It feels good when you hit three homers," Cano said. "I feel really good. But here they don't count. But the best thing is, it feels good [to be at full strength]. It feels good to be able to play the game at the level you want."

Cano went 4-for-4 with a walk, four runs and seven RBIs and is batting .370 (17-for-46) in Cactus League play.

"Robinson Cano, wow," said first-year Mariners manager Scott Servais. "It was a pretty special day. It's funny. A fan yelled at him, 'You hit one to right. You hit one to left. Let me see you hit one to center.' And he did. Special, special player. It was a great day for him."

"I'm not going to worry about it too much," said Hammel. "Happy Easter, Robbie Cano, I guess. He had one heck of a game today."

Cano has six home runs this spring, eclipsing his previous spring best of four in 2009 while with the Yankees. Cano has never been a big homer hitter in the spring, totaling just one long ball in his first two Cactus League seasons with the Mariners in 2014-15.

The 33-year-old saw his string of five straight American League All-Star appearances snapped last year when he batted just .239 in a slow first half. He recovered well enough to finish the year batting .287 with 21 homers and 79 RBIs before undergoing double hernia surgery in October.

Spring numbers don't mean too much, but Cano has said from the start of camp that he's back to being himself after dealing with stomach issues early last season and then the abdominal situation that limited his movement and led to postseason surgery.

"It feels good. It feels different now," Cano said. "I'm able to use my hips, and when I'm able to do that, it's easier for me to stay back and be able to swing at the pitches I'm looking for without having to cheat.

"That pitch inside, last year, I remember I couldn't hit that ball. And the last one was middle-in, and to be able to hit that to center … I mean, that's something I take pride in myself. I went home, had the surgery and stayed in Philadelphia for a month just getting ready and prepared for the season. It really worked out."

Cano said it wasn't all about the home runs. He went from first to third on a single to right by Franklin Gutierrez after he walked in the fifth, and he's been moving well in the field.

"It's a lot different," he said. "Last year, I remember the ground balls to the side, I wasn't able to get to those. And when I went to third on that hit to right field, those are things I want to test and see how it feels. And it feels good."

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.