Mariners 'shift' spots on defense to help Cano

Second baseman trades positions with Segura vs. lefty hitters

Mariners 'shift' spots on defense to help Cano

KANSAS CITY -- Robinson Cano has been one of the better defensive second basemen in the American League for years, but a sore hamstring has reduced his mobility at times this season, and the Mariners made an adjustment in one of their defensive shifts as a result.

When the Mariners go to an "extreme" shift against pull-hitting left-handed hitters, they'd been moving shortstop Jean Segura over to the second-base area and having Cano drop into a short right-field position. But in Thursday's 6-4 loss to the Royals, manager Scott Servais flip-flopped the two and had Segura take the short outfield spot and Cano stay in the infield.

"Kind of where Robby is at, he tweaked his hamstring the other night, and it tightened up in Texas," Servais said prior to Friday's game at Kauffman Stadium. "Coming in on the ball, obviously, we saw the play later in the game and he just didn't look comfortable at all.

"So we just went to him yesterday and talked about it in the coaches' meeting. 'Robby, are you OK if we flip this around?' Segura played second last year. He said he had no problem with it. Jean hasn't been over there a lot, but he came and got a ball there last night. I think it helps us out a little bit and it certainly helps Robby a little, where he is leg-wise right now. We'll stick with it."

Exactly how long they'll stick with it remains to be seen.

"The deeper you get out there, you can cover more ground," Servais said. "So you want to put the guy [in the outfield] whose legs are feeling better and can move a little better right now. Don't read too much into it. We talked to the players, it's what helps our team the best, just putting them in the right spots."

Cano was hitting .275/.336/.471 with 19 homers and 75 RBIs going into Friday's game, but his reduced range in the field has shown in the defensive metrics. After ranking third in the Majors in Defensive Runs Saved last year with 11 - behind the 12 of Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler -- Cano is at minus-1 this year.

Cano continues to have an outstanding arm and turns double plays extremely well, but his Ultimate Zone Rating has dropped to a minus 1.5, compared to a positive 1.5 last year.

Servais acknowledged Cano's legs have been bothering him off and on since he hurt his quadriceps during a series in Philadelphia in early May and spent 10 days on the disabled list from May 13-23.

"He's running the bases better, but I do know his hamstring tightened up in Texas the other night," Servais said. "They told me about the second inning the last night in Texas. It happens. I don't want to read too much into it. He's swinging the bat better, which is a good thing."

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.