Cano received no support from a home crowd that lustily booed his every movement and cheered each of his 10 outs. As the American League captain, Cano passed on selecting hometown favorite Billy Butler of the Royals for the Junior Circuit's squad.
"This is for the fans, and that was what they wanted," Cano said. "Sometimes you decide something and it's not right. It's like the All-Star Game; some guys are not here and they get [upset]. Sometimes you make a decision and it's not the right one."
With his father, former big leaguer Jose Cano, lobbing tosses from the mound in hopes of reprising last year's monster performance at Chase Field in Phoenix, Cano managed just three warning-track fly balls and was unable to clear the fences.
Three of Cano's outs were fouled back behind the plate, each greeted by loud cheers. He became the first Home Run Derby participant since Brandon Inge in 2009 to go homerless, but Cano could at least take solace in the fact that he captained a winning club. The Tigers' Prince Fielder took the honors, powered by a 12-homer showing in the final round against Toronto's Jose Bautista.
"I picked the right team -- we won," Cano said. "The American League ended up with the trophy."
The AL dominated the NL in the homer tally, 61-21, so $150,000 will go to Cano's charity, with $100,000 awarded to Boys & Girls Clubs of America in Cano's name.
Jose Cano said that he could tell his son was fatigued, coming off a four-game series against the Red Sox that included a day-night doubleheader on Saturday and concluded with a Sunday evening game at Fenway Park.
"I saw the way he was swinging at the ball, he [didn't] feel so good," Jose Cano said. "Four games in three days? I don't know why they don't give players Sunday [off], when he's coming for the Home Run Derby. Four games in three days; he feels a little tired."
Cano acknowledged that he felt run down by the trip to Kansas City from Boston, as well as going through a media gauntlet earlier on Monday.
"I landed at 4:30 in the morning and just got a few hours' sleep," Cano said. "That's not an excuse, but I didn't do my thing. You're not going to be perfect all the time."
The general opinion of Cano's decision to bypass Butler was made clear during batting practice for the event, as Cano was booed during an interview on the large center-field video screen.
Before Cano's first swings of the night, the crowd chanted Butler's name, and an airplane sponsored by a local radio station circled Kauffman Stadium towing a banner that read, "CONGRATS BILLY! YOU BLEW IT CANO."
It may have been an unpopular move, but nothing personal: Cano said he considered inviting Butler, who has hit 16 homers this year for Kansas City, but eventually settled on having Bautista, Fielder and the Angels' Mark Trumbo on the AL squad.
"It's not like I didn't pick him because I don't like him," Cano said. "It was a tough decision. I didn't pick Adam Dunn, who has  bombs. You've got [Edwin] Encarnacion, who has 23. The bad thing is you only get to pick three guys."
Butler said he wasn't concerned by the decision.
"Robinson is a great player, and he made his team; it's as simple as that," Butler said. "I hope I get one in the future, and it's nothing I can control. It's not something that's bothering me -- I'm just enjoying the experience of being an All-Star. It's great."
Bautista came to Cano's defense, calling the fans' behavior "totally uncalled for, in my eyes."
"I just don't see where that comes from," Bautista said. "But you can't really do anything about it. It's happening, and you can't control it. It's a shame that they were booing him like that for no justifiable reason."
Cano defeated the Red Sox's Adrian Gonzalez in the final round of the 2011 event, setting a new record -- equaled this year by Fielder -- with 12 homers in the final round.
Cano finished with 32 Home Run Derby blasts last year and joined Jason Giambi as the only players to represent the Yankees in two Derby contests. Cano said that the experience didn't sour his opinion of the Derby and that he'd love to compete -- and perhaps serve as captain -- again in the future.
"I still enjoyed it, had fun and was here with guys that are not on my team," Cano said. "I had a lot of fun with them, and I'm looking forward to [Tuesday]."