OAKLAND -- If it seemed like Robinson Cano got a lot of face time during Tuesday's Yankees telecast, that wasn't by accident. The second baseman spent a lot of extra time at the plate, seeing 31 pitches in the span of five at-bats.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi not only volunteered that statistic a day later, but he marveled at it. Cano tied a career high with three walks and also struck out a pair of times, leading Athletics pitchers to put in a little extra work against him.
"It is impressive," Girardi said. "We've talked about this young man. We think he's maturing and he has a better idea of what he needs to do and how to work pitchers -- what to look for in certain at-bats and situations, and knowing if a pitcher is trying to make you chase. I think he's growing up."
Girardi noted that the stat probably isn't something that could have been said about Cano two or three seasons ago, and Cano acknowledged that might be true. He believes he is seeing better pitches now.
"It's not difficult," Cano said. "I'm a free swinger, but it's not hard. The good thing is that I started in Spring Training. I've been hitting the ball better. I'm just taking pitches, seeing what I want, and if it's not what I want I'll take the walk."
Cano worked extensively with hitting coach Kevin Long this spring, stressing plate selection, and Alex Rodriguez is also in his ear quite a bit. On the bench, Cano is also trying to steal a page from the Yankees' most patient observer.
"I watch Nick Johnson a lot," Cano said. "He doesn't chase pitches. It's got to be whatever he wants, and if it's not what he wants, he doesn't swing. That's why he's so successful. That's the kind of guy I take a little bit from."