Royals

Royals fans still hold grudge against Yankees’ Cano

Updated: 2013-05-11T03:27:09Z

By SAM MCDOWELL

The Kansas City Star

Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano said he’s moved on from the events that led to being booed during last summer’s Home Run Derby at Kauffman Stadium.

As for Royals fans? Not just yet.

They shattered Cano with a round of boos in his return to Kauffman Stadium on Friday night, using Cano’s first-inning trip to the plate to continue their show of displeasure. The animosity toward Cano began last year, when he passed on adding Royals designated hitter Billy Butler to the Home Run Derby roster.

Prior to Friday’s series opener with the Royals, Cano said the events during last year’s All-Star Game are behind him, even if Royals fans feel differently.

“One thing I can say (is) I love to come here and play here,” Cano said. “Whatever happened last year, it’s already in the past.”

The feeling apparently isn’t mutual.

Cano was booed throughout a homerless round during the Home Run Derby at Kauffman last July, as well as the All-Star Game the following night. Cano commented that the boos didn’t bother him, but he took exception to what he viewed as fans’ mistreatment toward his family, particularly his mother, who was wearing a Cano jersey in the stands.

“It’s not surprising to get booed because that’s part of the game,” Cano said Friday. “Everywhere we go, when you play for the Yankees, most of the stadium is going to boo. But the (incident) with (my) family in the stands, I was surprised.”

Nevertheless, Cano said it’s a thing of the past. On Friday, he finished the night two for five with an RBI single.

“That was that day,” Cano said. “I'm just going to go out there and have fun and play the game.”

Baker product pitching for Yankees

Vidal Nuno took a journey to the big leagues no man had taken over the past 100 years — a path from Baker University to major league baseball.

It was only four years ago that Nuno was firing fastballs for Baker on his way to the Heart of America Athletic Conference pitcher of the year.

On Friday, he suited up for the New York Yankees as a left-handed member of their bullpen.

Improbable? You’d think so.

Except Nuno insisted he saw it coming.

“I had dreams that maybe one day ...” Nuno said before trailing off.

The day has come. Nuno was called up to the Yankees on April 27 and made his MLB debut two days later — a scoreless appearance that spanned three innings.

That’s a far cry from getting outs in the HAAC, but then again, Nuno said he has developed into an entirely different pitcher.

A San Diego native, he was drafted by the Indians in 2009 before being released. When he returned to baseball in the independent Frontier League, he knew his repertoire needed advancement. He added a change-up and a cutter — a pair of pitches he credits with revitalizing a career he once considered giving up.

“Every year, you have to develop a pitch,” Nuno said. “That’s one of the keys to getting guys out at this level. The competition got better, so I had to develop a pitch.”

Nuno is the second player in Baker history to reach the major leagues. Zip Zabel was drafted by the Brooklyn Superbas in 1913 before being traded to the Cubs, where he enjoyed a three-year career.

Nuno returned to the Baker campus on Friday with his former coach, Phil Hannon. Nuno said several former teammates and coaches planned to attend this weekend’s series at Kauffman Stadium.

‘No Mo Zone’

In his previous trip to Kansas City — May 3 of last year — Yankees closer Mariano Rivera tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) while shagging fly balls during batting practice.

One year later, the Yankees had a little fun with their 43-year-old closer.

During their batting practice session Friday, the Yankees posted a sign — “No Mo Zone” — on the spot on the left center-field warning track where Rivera injured his right knee, costing him the remainder of the 2012 season. They also drew an outline of Rivera on the warning track.

A year after the injury, Rivera is back to his normal self — at least on the mound. He has converted all 13 of his save opportunities and has a 1.88 earned run average in 15 games.

Minor details

Class AA Northwest Arkansas right-hander Yordano Ventura was cited as the No. 2 player this week by Baseball America on its Prospect Hot Sheet after a second straight 10-strikeout performance.

“Ventura has one of the best fastballs in the minors,” Baseball America reported, “a mid- to high-90s pitch that touches 100 mph at times. His curveball can be a plus pitch as well — eight of his 10 strikeouts this week came on a third-strike breaking ball.

“But a small stature and fringe change-up lead many to question if Ventura can start in the majors. The Royals will give him every chance to prove he can’t handle it.”

To reach Sam McDowell, send email to smcdowell@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/SamMcDowell11.

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