NEW YORK (AP) — Robinson Cano drew loud boos Tuesday night in his first at-bat at Yankee Stadium since signing a $240 million contract with the Seattle Mariners last winter.
Cano had a big smile when he came to bat in the first inning and gave a wink to New York Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia.
The sparse crowd on a dreary evening responded with a Bronx cheer.
The five-time All-Star struck out swinging and the fans mocked him with cheers.
When Cano took his position at second base, the Bleacher Creatures didn't chant his name, as they did for so long. Instead, they shouted: "You sold out!"
Hours earlier, Cano looked at ease sitting in front of a microphone in the interview room at Yankee Stadium. He also looked a lot different than the previous times he'd sat in the same spot.
A well-trimmed beard. A Seattle Mariners "S'' on the navy cap. And questions about being heckled by the only fans he knew for the first nine years of his career.
Cano has moved on from an acrimonious offseason that ended up with him leaving New York for a 10-year deal with the 91-loss Mariners.
After a pinstriped stay in which he helped lead New York to the 2009 World Series championship, the two-time Gold Glover said he was excited to make his debut at Yankee Stadium as a visitor.
Boos or cheers, he said.
Never as popular as Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera, there was plenty of talk about the reception Cano would get. He playfully participated in a Monday sketch on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon that showed both sides of the crowd equation.
Given a chance to boo a life-sized picture of Cano in a Manhattan park, each self-professed Yankees fan let him have it. But when the real Cano popped out from behind the poster wall, they gushed their appreciation and hugged the smiling star.
"I have to understand the fans. They're not going to cheer for you here. They're going to boo for you because you're on the opposite team," he said.
On the day he signed with Seattle, Cano said he didn't feel respected by the Yankees' offer of $175 million for seven years.
Asked if he still felt disrespected by the Yankees, Cano said he wanted to move past those comments.
"One thing I understand is this is a business. I can't control the Yankees," Cano said. "They made a decision. I guess we're both happy because I am happy where I am right now."
A streaky hitter during a durable career in which he never missed more than three games in a season from 2007-2013, Cano is on a run fans in New York became accustomed to. He went into the game batting .423 (11 for 26) with three doubles and three RBIs during a seven-game hitting streak.
Overall he's batting .301 with one homer and 11 RBIs in 24 games, an average that's not too far off his career .309.
Cano was a fixture in the middle of the Yankees' order under Joe Girardi, hired as manager for the 2008 season. Girardi was certain the team didn't slight Cano.
"A hundred and 75 million dollars is a lot of money for seven years. I think we've always respected Robbie Cano and his talents and we will continue to respect Robbie Cano and his talents," Girardi said.
"I think you'll see that in how we try to pitch to him. We're not just going to put it right down the middle of the plate," he said.