SAFECO FIELD -- Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano apologized to teammates and fans for his 80-game suspension and said he was open to whatever role the team needs him to play when he returns next month.
Cano spoke to reporters for the first time on Saturday since being suspended on May 15 after a positive test for the diuretic furosemide.
"I wanted to apologize genuinely to the people of Seattle, the incredible fans, the young baseball players in the (United) States and the D.R. and most importantly to my teammates," Cano said. "I wanted to show my face to you guys. I don't think for me it's fair to just come back and walk into the clubhouse.
"I wanted to do this earlier. But I don't want to be a distraction for the team. So I was waiting for the right time."
Cano fractured a bone in his right hand in a game in Detroit on May 13 and landed on the disabled list the following day. The suspension was handed down on May 15. The Mariners have managed to go 34-16 in the 50 games Cano has missed so far.
"For me this is the hardest thing that I've been going through in my life besides the death of my grandpa," Cano said. "As you guys know, I love this game so much. For me, baseball is everything. You know I hate to sit in the dugout and have a day off and being away from the game and not being able to sit in the dugout and cheer for my teammates, that makes it even harder."
Cano said he couldn't discuss details of the testing process but maintained the substance was prescribed to him in the Dominican Republic for the treatment of a medical condition.
"I've been getting tested for the last 12 seasons and I've never had an issue with MLB policy," he said. "I was treating for some medical ailments and I was being supervised by a doctor. But at the same time, I understand that everything that goes into my body, I'm responsible for that."
Cano was hitting .287 with a .385 on-base percentage, .441 slugging percentage, 10 doubles, four home runs, 23 RBI and 21 walks for the season when the suspension was handed down in May. Dee Gordon was moved from center field to second base to fill Cano's spot in the infield and has excelled defensively over the last two months.
While Cano's bat would be a welcome addition to the lineup, figuring out where he will play in the field is less certain. Whether it's a return to second base, spot duty at first base or designated hitter, or something else altogether, Cano said he is willing to do whatever the team needs him to do.
"This is not about myself. This is about us as a team," Cano said. "We are playing for the city of Seattle. All of us, the city, my teammates, and myself. I’m focused on bringing a title to Seattle so I would do whatever it takes to help this team to win. At the same time I understand I’m not going to be able to play in the playoffs so you got to give a chance to Dee to go out and play because when we get to the playoffs he’s going to have to come back and play second base."
Cano has remained close to the team and does workouts at Safeco Field early in the day before the rest of the team arrives in the afternoons. He leaves the stadium before his teammates begin their baseball work and watches the games from home.
"I’m not counting any games because then I’m going to go crazy. But I watch every game," he said. "It makes it easier for me to walk in here every day and be able to work out in here."
With a road trip upcoming that leads into the All-Star break, Cano is set to return home to the Dominican Republic where he will begin focusing more on baseball work at his father's baseball academy.
"Like I do every year before I go to spring training, I want to see live pitching, live guys to throw to me," Cano said. "And I think it's going to be easier for me to go home and see pitching because I say, for example, 'throw me a fastball right down the middle' and I miss it so it's easier for me to say 'you know what, throw me the same pitch' and be able to work.
"This guy throws like 90-92, guy that played professional in the Dominican, throws a lot of strikes. So that's why I want to go home and be able to when I get back I just ready.
"It's like you're running, you've got to jump and run right away. You won't be able to take step by step. They playing really good but you want to come back and be able to contribute."
Barring any postponements, Cano is eligible to return to the team on August 14. He can head out on a minor league rehab assignment beginning on August 1. However, Cano said he needs to speak with General Manager Jerry Dipoto about the specific course of action he will undertake in getting ready to return.
Cano is ineligible to play in the postseason due to the suspension.
Photo Credit: TORONTO, ON - MAY 8: Robinson Cano #22 of the Seattle Mariners slides across home plate to score a run on a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning during MLB game action against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre on May 8, 2018 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)