NEW YORK -- Robinson Cano returned to Yankee Stadium on Tuesday for the first time since signing with Seattle in December, and the five-time All-Star said he was just looking forward to seeing his former teammates and playing baseball in front of the fans that watched him grow up in the game.
But Cano steered clear of any questions about the contract decision he made to leave New York, despite being asked several times about his "lack of respect" comment, which the second baseman made when he initially rejected the Yankees' seven-year, $175 million offer and signed with Seattle for $10 years at $240 million.
"One thing to understand, this is a business," Cano said. "I can't control the Yankees. I can control myself. They made that decision, and we're both happy. I'm happy where I am now. I'm happy to be a Mariner. And good luck to them."
Cano had a whirlwind day in New York on Monday's off-day, when he taped the MTV2 show "Off the Bat" and made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, taping a funny bit in which he came out from behind a big cardboard cutout of himself that Yankees fans were booing before realizing Cano was there in person.
"That was a lot of fun -- I had a great experience," Cano said. "I know I'm not a Yankee anymore. I have to understand the fans. They're not going to cheer for you here. They're going to boo you because you're on the opposite team. The last thing they want is for you to come here and do well."
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said he wasn't concerned at all about Cano handling the New York scene, which also included a pregame press gathering on Tuesday in front of a throng of reporters and cameras in a large interview room normally reserved for the Yankees.
"Robbie is a nine-year veteran, and he grew up in New York. Need I say more?" McClendon said. "I'm sure he knows how to handle himself. You guys need to keep an eye out for me."
Cano entered play on Tuesday hitting .301 with one home run and 11 RBIs over his first 24 games with the Mariners. He acknowledged it's a new situation in a new city after growing up in the Yankees organization, but he said he's pleased with how things are going.
"It's different," Cano said. "The Yankees are a team that has won a lot of championships, they have fans all over the place. It's always crowded. In Seattle, I can't tell you that much yet. We've had two homestands. But right now, I can tell you one thing: I'm happy there, the way they've embraced me, the fans, the organization, my teammates. That's one thing I can tell you right now."
Iwakuma to pitch Friday, maybe for Mariners
NEW YORK -- After pitching four innings in his first Minor League rehab start on Sunday in Las Vegas for Triple-A Tacoma, All-Star right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma rejoined the Mariners on Tuesday and threw a bullpen session at Yankee Stadium.
Iwakuma is on schedule to pitch again on Friday, and the Mariners have an opening in their rotation that day in Houston, but they so far have not committed to bringing the 33-year-old off the disabled list to make that start.
Iwakuma, who missed the entire spring with a sprained tendon in his right middle finger, gave up six hits and three runs (two earned) in his four frames for Tacoma.
"I'm prepared to go Friday," Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. "They haven't told me anything yet, so we'll have to wait and see. But physically, a four-day rest would be good, as always."
Said manager Lloyd McClendon: "He'll pitch somewhere Friday. I'm not sure where yet."
McClendon said Sunday's rehab outing went about as expected for Iwakuma's first official game action after he threw several simulated outings against teammates.
"He threw OK; he got his pitch count up to 86, which is the most important thing," McClendon said. "His command was OK -- not great, but I didn't expect it to be. What I wanted was just him coming out feeling good and healthy from the outing, and we accomplished that."
Iwakuma said his command wasn't quite where it's needed yet, not surprising given the lengthy layoff.
"It was OK," Iwakuma said. "So-so; not 100 percent yet. It was my first game in a long time, and I was trying to get my feel back for the game. I need some more time, but it's going to be there."
The Mariners are tentatively listing Brandon Maurer for Saturday's game in Houston and Chris Young for Sunday, with a TBA for Friday's series opener.
Miller, Ackley shielded from tough lefty Sabathia
NEW YORK -- Mariners skipper Lloyd McClendon had young shortstop Brad Miller and left fielder Dustin Ackley out of the starting lineup for Tuesday's series-opening 6-3 win over the Yankees, but he said both decisions were simply based on the opponent: tough left-hander CC Sabathia.
Veteran utility man Willie Bloomquist started at shortstop for the third time in the past four games in place of Miller, who is hitting just .174.
"I did not want to put Miller back in the lineup against CC," McClendon said. "Giving him another day will not hurt as well."
Ackley entered as a pinch-hitter in the seventh and finished the game 2-for-2 with a run scored and another driven in.
McClendon indicated that Bloomquist could get more playing time in similar situations going forward until Miller heats up.
"I'll probably try to protect him as much as I can," McClendon said. "I would say I don't expect a platoon situation at short, but if there are some real nasty lefties out there like CC, you could probably see me giving him a breather. He just has to grind it out and get some positive results. That's it in a nutshell."
Cole Gillespie started in place of Ackley in left field, as he did against left-handers in two of the three games against the Rangers.
"Just giving Ack a breather, also against a tough lefty," McClendon said. "He's my left fielder, and he'll play."
• Erasmo Ramirez was transferred from Class A Advanced High Desert to Tacoma on Monday and is in line to make his second Minor League start on Friday for the Rainiers against Las Vegas at Cheney Stadium. Ramirez threw six innings for High Desert on Sunday, allowing six runs (five earned) with eight hits, two walks and seven strikeouts against Scottsdale.
Ramirez is pitching in the Minors to stay on schedule, as the Mariners have gone temporarily to a four-man rotation with several off-days to work around in the past few days. Ramirez is on schedule to return if needed on May 7, when Seattle has a doubleheader in Oakland.
• Veteran right-handed reliever Ramon Ramirez was released from Tacoma to make room on the Rainiers' roster after posting a 10.38 ERA in four appearances over 4 1/3 innings in Tacoma. Ramirez was not on the 40-man roster after signing a Minor League deal over the offseason.
• Outfielder/designated hitter Logan Morrison is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list on Wednesday, but McClendon said Morrison's strained right hamstring is not yet strong enough for him to start a Minor League rehab assignment.
Morrison remained in Seattle to work with team trainers, as did injured pitchers Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, who have both begun playing catch over the last few days.