Cano steps up in first chance to clean up

Cano steps up in first chance to clean up

NEW YORK -- The Yankees were buzzing over Robinson Cano's performance on Friday night, which included three hits, three runs and an absolute blast of a grand slam -- all in the second baseman's first start as a cleanup hitter.

"He's really making a name for himself, and I still don't think he gets the credit he deserves," Nick Swisher said after the game. "People better start watching him."

Manager Joe Girardi was just as effusive in his praise early Saturday, citing Cano's consistency throughout the season and against both right-handers and left-handers. His grand slam on Friday was his seventh homer against a southpaw -- the most for any player in the Major Leagues, let alone for left-handed hitters.

"I don't think that he changes his approach," Girardi said of Cano against fellow lefties. "He has the ability to go the other way. It helps that he's never been platooned; he's always been a guy the organization has left in there every day."

Whatever it is, it's certainly paying off this season. It's hard to say Cano has really emerged since he's already been a key contributor of a World Series championship team. At the same time, there aren't many people who expected him to be quite this good in 2010.

Girardi himself said it would be hard to argue against including Cano in a list of the game's 10 best players.

"Right now, he's playing as good as anybody," Girardi said. "I would hate to put a ceiling on him, because I'm not sure what it is. I would hate to shortchange him."