We’ve got a real special treat for everyone this morning. Tristan over at The Cano Baseball Experience contacted me and after an email exchange, he asked me if I wanted to interview Jose Cano, father of Yankees’ second baseman Robinson Cano, about the CBE and his life in baseball. The questions, and most importantly the answers, after the jump.
Why did you start the CBE? CBE was started so I could share my love of baseball with others, here in the United States. I spend the MLB off-season training Robinson and I wanted to continue this type of training year round and I also wanted to be able to share my training of MLB players with talented and driven individuals who have a love of the sport of baseball and want to experience what it is like to train like an MLB player.
Did you have a specific goal in mind when you started it and has that goal evolved as you and the Experience have moved forward? The specific goal I had in mind was to just share the passion of baseball in the Dominican Republic with those players here who have a passion for the sport as well. That has taken shape into forming CBE and sharing my experience with others. We will see how everything evolves for the first year and as long as I am able to touch the lives of a few individuals and share with them the passion that Dominicans have for baseball, I will feel like I have accomplished what I set out to do.
What has been the most rewarding part of your work on and with the CBE? The most rewarding part is teaching kids how to play baseball and hearing stories of how they used what I taught them in camp in a game or practice to make them feel as though they have improved or learned to implement what we have taught them.
What initiatives are you and the CBE working on? Now that summer camps are underway, we are working on perfecting the summer experience while we begin planning for the Winter CBE. For the winter, we are working on having a number of entire high school teams and possibly college teams come to the Dominican during their winter break (Christmas/New Years and Feb/President’s Weekend as well as Spring Break) and play against some Dominican teams of equal age/ability and tour a MLB facility. We are working on those details now and hope to have them finalized late July. For more on that please visit canobaseball.com.
Coming up, Robison was never really a mega-prospect, more of a solid prospect who might turn into a good player. As his dad, did you see this kind of explosion coming? Yes. I have always told him that if he just works hard, his time will come. I always knew that his love of the game would carry him far and you cannot teach passion and since Robinson was a little kid, he would just spend hours and hours and hours at the field taking batting practice, so I knew that he would have a break through.
Do you always think your kid is going to be a super star, or were you just as pleasantly surprised as everyone else? Growing up in The Dominican, everyone wants their kid to be the next best professional baseball player and with Robinson, I knew he would be a successful baseball player, but I never expected the level of success that he achieved. My favorite moment as a father with Robinson was last year during the HR Derby and it was before I threw the last pitch and I kept telling him, “Robinson, one more pitch is all you need”.
Why didn’t Robinson follow in your footsteps as a pitcher? He grew up playing in the infield and it just fit him more than the role of a pitcher. He loved hitting too much and didn’t like seeing me with a sore arm after I came home from pitching in games and had to rest for a few days before throwing. As a hitter you can just do that every day and he liked that.
You were signed as an 18-year old amateur by the Yankees in 1980. What was it like back then for a young man from the D.R. adjusting to playing in the U.S. How was your experience different from the one your son encountered, and what was the best advice you gave him? It was hard at first adjusting to the US, but I got used to it and it was a great opportunity and I wanted to take it all in and get the best experience I could. Robinson spent some time in the US when he was in high school in Newark, NJ so him coming to the US wasn’t as big of a shock as it is for some players.
What advice do you give to young Dominican players coming up now? I tell them to play their best because it is a very competitive environment and I tell them to not get distracted by extracurricular activities and to just focus on the job they were brought to do.
How has baseball in the Dominican Republic changed across your lifetime? It has become more competitive as everyone wants to be a professional baseball player. Kids are dropping out of school earlier and earlier to be able to play baseball and train all day.
Do you think the new MLB CBA, with its restrictions on International Free Agent spending, will affect baseball in the DR? No, because there are so many kids that love the sport, there will always be a huge supply of talented kids from DR. While the money may not be as huge as it used to be, it is still a lot of money compared to what an average Dominican earns and the dream of being a professional baseball player is still strong as ever.
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