ATLANTA — Robinson Cano remains confident in his skills as he has been given an opportunity to revive his career at 39 while starting — at least on a fill-in basis — for the defending World Series champion Atlanta Braves.
Cano carries a .301 career batting average with more than 2,600 hits, but he struggled in short stints with the New York Mets and San Diego Padres this season.
The Braves, in need of a left-handed hitter who can help at second base, obtained Cano for $1 in a minor league deal with the Padres on Sunday.
Cano instantly joined Atlanta’s starting lineup, playing second base and batting ninth as the Braves opened a series Monday night against his former team, the NL East-leading New York Mets.
“I know what work I’ve put in the offseason and I’ve always believed in myself and the stuff that I will prepare myself,” Cano said following batting practice on Monday. “I feel that I can still play this game.”
The Braves trailed the Mets by 1½ games going into the three-game set at Truist Park.
Cano gives the Braves another option at second base after Ozzie Albies went down with a broken foot.
With the Mets in town, Cano attracted a large crowd of reporters with no shortage of questions about his past and future.
Asked if he felt he received a fair shot with the Mets, Cano said “I don’t want to go back to the past. … There’s no hard feelings. I’ve got friends on the other side and I always wish them the best.”
Cano hit .256 with New York in 2019 and .316 in only 49 games in 2020.
Cano hit a combined .149 with one homer and four RBI in 74 at-bats for the Padres and Mets this season. He batted .333 with three homers and 20 RBI in 96 at-bats for Triple-A El Paso after the Padres released him and re-signed him to a minor league deal last month.
“I think he was rusty when he was here for the first two times,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said of Cano’s early season struggles. “You’re just hoping you get what Robinson Cano is capable of. It’s worth a try. He’s been playing a month in Triple-A and doing well, so we’ll see. He’s in a great shape.”
Snitker managed Cano’s father, Jose Cano, who was a minor league pitcher for the Class A Durham Braves in 1984.
“He was one of my starters in Durham,” Snitker said.
The younger Cano arrived in Atlanta equipped with stories about Snitker from his father. He said he also heard about the Braves from friends on the team, including his offseason workout partner Marcell Ozuna.
“Everything they’ve said about this team is good,” Cano said.
“I’m excited for the opportunity and also happy to be here. I’ve seen from the other side, the energy and the chemistry and the fans show up every day to support this team.”
Albies fractured his foot last month in an at-bat, and Atlanta has been relying on Orlando Arcia as his replacement.
Arcia was hitting .252 with three homers and 17 RBI in 123 at-bats this year. Snitker said he’s been pleased with Albies’ replacement, especially his defense.
The Mets owe Cano nearly $45 million remaining on his original contract signed with Seattle. He was earning a prorated share of the $700,000 minimum in his major league deal with San Diego. He sat out last season serving a second suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.
Cano was an eight-time All-Star while with the New York Yankees and Seattle. He is a two-time Gold Glover with 335 home runs and 1,306 RBI in 17 seasons.
The Padres signed him to a minor league deal on June 10, eight days after releasing him.
In addition to adding Cano to the 26-man roster, the Braves reinstated outfielder Adam Duvall from the paternity list.
First baseman Mike Ford was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett and infielder Phil Gosselin was designated for assignment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.