Robinson Cano has surpassed many milestones in his 14-year professional career. His three homers in the Mets’ 5-2 win over the Padres on Tuesday night were another accolade to add to the list.
Amid all the attention brought on by his recent jump in production, Cano could think of just one man to credit.
“I want to thank Chili [Davis], because we’ve been working so hard, not only on the swing, but mentally he’s very positive,” Cano said following Tuesday’s win. “He’s the kind of hitting coach you want to be around, not a guy that just works on your swing. … Including myself, and I know a lot of guys here, he’s been huge for us.”
Cano is no stranger to the spotlight after his eight years with the Yankees, but he has played under a microscope in his first season with the Mets. He has absorbed a large portion of the criticism and disappointment this season has conjured, but Davis said he never was worried about the veteran second baseman.
“There’s constant reminders from me to him that, ‘Hey, every time you get a hit, you’re one hit closer to the Hall of Fame,’ ” Davis told The Post before Wednesday’s game with the Padres at Citi Field. “He’s an exceptional player, exceptional person. Watching him go through the rough times and being booed here — he loves New York, he played in New York, he came back to New York.
“He might not show it, he’s never responded to any fan or anyone negatively with the boos. But he felt that. He kept working and wanted to get better, that’s what he talked about every day.”
Manager Mickey Callaway said he felt Davis’ experience from his 18-year career playing in the majors made it easier for players to lean on him.
“I think it’s more who Chili is and what he’s about than what he did on the field,” Callaway said before Wednesday’s game. “I think that’s what it is about, every good coach, it’s who they are, what they care about, how they connect with the players. … I think that Robbie values that very much.”
Davis said he always has admired Cano, but the dynamic between the two goes well beyond a mutual respect, and the world got to see a glimpse of it Tuesday.
“He goes home at night, comes back and tells me, ‘I looked at this video, look at what I used to do in New York and Seattle,’ and, ‘You see that move there?’ ” Davis recalled. “Ironically, I had been sitting here in the video room looking at the same thing. I said, ‘Look at what I’m looking at,’ and he goes, ‘See? We’re on the same page.’ ”
For a player like Cano, who has appeared in 150 or more games during a season 11 times, his reputation and previous production have made his struggles this season that much more glaring. But Davis hoped the fans don’t forget who they’re booing.
Being around Cano reminds Davis of his time with David Ortiz, when he was the hitting coach for the Red Sox during Ortiz’s last three years in the majors.
“I loved watching David Ortiz retire after having an MVP-type year and just walking away and saying, ‘I’m done.’ Because in my mind, a veteran player of that stature, you don’t tell them when they’re done. They tell you.”