Cano proud to don No. 42 in return to Bronx

Mariners second baseman was named after Jackie Robinson

Cano proud to don No. 42 in return to Bronx

NEW YORK -- For Robinson Cano, the excitement of returning to Yankee Stadium for the third year with the Mariners on Friday was boosted by the fact it coincided with Jackie Robinson Day.

Cano's father, Jose, who pitched seven seasons in the Minor Leagues and had a brief Major League stint with the Astros in 1989, named his son after Jackie Robinson. So Cano has grown up well aware of the legacy of the man who broke baseball's color barrier in 1947 and opened the door for all minorities to play in the Majors.

"It's one of my favorite days in baseball," Cano said prior to Friday's series opener. "Because of him, we're here today and able to come out of the Dominican and be able to play here at a high level. Not only that, we're able to support our families, help our families. Because of him, we have the privilege to be here. I'm proud, being able to wear the No. 42 today."

Cano's father began the education early.

"My dad told me all the things [Robinson] went through, then you mature and grow up and start reading and watching about it," Cano said. "That's something I don't think anyone right now [could do], with the way he stayed in and went through those situations at the high level that he played."

As for returning to Yankee Stadium, where he played the first nine years of his career and played a big role on seven postseason teams, including the 2009 World Series champs?

"It's always going to be special," Cano said, sitting in the visitors' dugout. "I won my first championship here when I first came up and played with a lot of teammates that are Hall of Famers and superstars. … I always am going to keep those great memories. This is where I won the championships, the last ground ball when Mariano [Rivera] was pitching. They gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues and that's not something you're ever going to forget."

Cano said he still keeps in touch with former teammates Alex Rodriguez, CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova, but he's not yearning for his days in New York.

"Honestly, no," he said. "I'm used to the West Coast. We have a lot of fun, the fans have been great, it's a good organization and teammates. They make you feel really good."

But does he miss the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium?

"Anyone would miss right field here," Cano said with a laugh.

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