M’s Cano takes high road, doesn’t fire back at Rivera

OAKLAND, Calif. — Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano chose not to return fire Tuesday when asked about comments by former Yankees teammate Mariano Rivera that questioned his “passion” for the game.

“I’m not going to comment too far on this,” Cano said. “If that’s how Mariano feels, I respect that. I’m always going to have respect for him. I spent nine years with him.

“For me, he’s always going to be the best closer. That’s how I feel.”

Rivera’s comments surfaced earlier in the day when The New York Daily News published excerpts from his forthcoming book, The Closer.

“This guy (Cano) has so much talent I don’t know where to start,” wrote Rivera , who retired after last season. “There is no doubt that he is a Hall of Fame caliber (player).

“It’s just a question of whether he finds the drive you need to get there. I don’t think Robby burns to be the best. … You don’t see that red-hot passion in him that you see in most elite players.”

Rivera also declared he’d pick Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia over Cano, who left the Yankees after last season after nine years by signing a 10-year contract with the Mariners for $240 million.

Regarding Pedroia, Rivera wrote:“Nobody plays harder, gives more, wants to win more. He comes at you hard for 27 outs. It’s a special thing to see.

“If I have to win one game, I’d have a hard time taking anybody over Dustin Pedroia as my second baseman.”

Cano declined to comment when asked whether he was surprised and/or stung by Rivera’s comments.

“Everybody has a different opinion,” he said. “You’ve got to respect everyone. If that’s his opinion, I have to respect his opinion. I don’t have any other comment. I’m not going to go too far with this.

“My focus right now is this team. I’m here. We’re winning. That’s all it’s about. I was over there, and now I’m here. I want to focus on this team. I don’t want to be a distraction for my teammates.”

Ramirez returning

Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez will rejoin the Mariners officially today on a one-day recall from Class AAA Tacoma and start the second game of the doubleheader against the A’s.

The move isn’t yet official because Ramirez is returning under the 26-man rule for doubleheaders, but he was in the clubhouse prior to Tuesday’s game.

Ramirez, 24, opened the season in the rotation but was sent to the minors after going 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA in five starts. He made one start at Class Hi-A High Desert before shifting to Tacoma.

Clubs are permitted to add one player for doubleheaders scheduled at least 48 hours in advance — not on shorter notice due to possible difficulties in getting players to the game on time.

That player can take part in both games but must be sent back to the minors at day’s end. Otherwise another move must be made to return to the 25-player maximum.

Right-hander Felix Hernandez will oppose Oakland righty Dan Straily in the opener. The A’s will promote right-hander Arnold Leon from Class AAA Sacramento but haven’t decided on a starter for the second game.

It could be Leon or long reliever Drew Pomeranz. Leon, 25, is 2-1 with a 4.34 ERA in six starts at Sacramento

Short hops

Today’s doubleheader includes a makeup game for an April 4 postponement due to unplayable grounds at the O.co Coliseum. … When Michael Saunders played all three outfield positions in Monday’s game, he became just the third player in franchise history to do so. Rich Amaral did it on Sept. 11, 1992 vs. the Twins, and Stan Javier did it on April 21, 2001 vs. the Angels. … The Mariners entered the game at 15-15, which marked the first time since 2009, when they were also 15-15, they didn’t have a losing record through 30 games.

Looking back

It was 35 years ago today — May 7, 1979 — that Dan Meyer drove in seven runs in a 12-4 victory over New York at Yankee Stadium. Meyer’s big day included a grand slam that broke a 3-3 tie in the fifth inning.

Meyers’ seven RBI stood as the club record until Alvin Davis had eight on May 5, 1986 against Toronto at the Kingdome. Mike Blowers (1995) and Mike Cameron (2001) later matched Davis with eight-RBI games.

On tap

The Mariners wrap up their nine-game road trip with a traditional doubleheader today against the A’s at the O.co Coliseum. The opener starts at 12:35 p.m. with 30 minutes planned between games.

The Mariners will start right-handers Hernandez (3-1 with a 2.53 ERA) and Ramirez (1-3 and 6.75).

The A’s will start right-hander Dan Straily (1-2 and 5.01) or either righty Arnold Leon (2-1 and 4.34 at Triple-A Sacramento) or lefty Drew Pomeranz (1-1, 1.98).

Root Sports will carry both games.

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