Seattle Mariners’ second baseman Robinson Cano is mired in the worst slump of his career this season.
In his second year of a 10-year, $US240 million contract with Seattle, Cano is hitting career-lows with a batting average of .248, an on-base percentage of .289, and an OPS of .652 with just five home runs.
Despite a solid 2014, Cano’s numbers took a steep dive in September when his batting average and OBP fell to .143 and .250, respectively. He hasn’t recovered since.
In an interview with USA Today’s Jorge L. Ortiz, Cano said his struggles began with a stomach parasite last August, and he hasn’t yet recovered.
Cano felt stomach discomfort through the final two months of the 2014 season, but didn’t get it checked until after the season was over. Doctors found he had a stomach parasite, which was curable with antibiotics. However, Cano says he was left with acid reflux disease, which still gives him trouble.
“It still affects me. Sometimes you drink water and it makes you feel like vomiting. I can’t eat the same way I did. It’s hard to deal with, especially being the first time this has happened to me. Sometimes I eat only once a day before playing, because I feel full. And you just don’t have the same energy…”
“Sometimes I play without any strength or energy, but you have to play, give the best of yourself. Some people may say, ‘Cano, he’s listless.’ But (the energy) is not the same.”
As Ortiz notes, acid reflux affects the body’s digestion process and allows gastric acid into the esophagus, creating heartburn and feelings of being bloated.
Cano has changed his diet, but his overall physical performance certainly seems impacted.
Cano has clearly been affected in other ways, however. As Ortiz notes, his strikeout rate has increased while his walk rate has decreased. Grantland’s Jonah Keri writes that Cano’s first-swing strike rate is his highest in six years, he has more swinging strikes than ever before, and a second-worst in-zone strikeout rate are all discouraging signs.
The Mariners obviously could never have seen this type of slump coming, and if it’s mostly tied to Cano’s stomach issues, then hopefully he can get medical help. If not, the Mariners are set to pay a shadow of Cano’s former self $US24 million per season for the next eight years.
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