“The best thing was not my swing, it was the kind of man who was throwing,” Cano said last night at Chase Field in Phoenix. “He’s my dad, the one that knows me very well, the one I practice with in the offseason and go to every day after the game on the phone.”
The Yankees’ 28-year-old second baseman won the contest, a prelude to tonight’s All-Star Game, by blasting a final-round record 12 homers to beat the 11 hit by Gonzalez.
After the left-hander’s winning home run soared over the right-centerfield fence, Cano threw his arms into the air and then hugged his dad, who pitched in six games for the Houston Astros in 1989. Jose Cano named his son after Hall of Fame infielder Jackie Robinson.
“I want to tell him he’s one of the best fathers, thank him for the support and making me the man I am today,” Cano said on the field, shortly after receiving the trophy from former Yankee manager Joe Torre, now baseball’s executive vice president of baseball operations.
Cano is the third Yankee to win the Home Run Derby, joining Jason Giambi in 2002 and Tino Martinez in 1997.
Cano and Gonzalez reached the final by each hitting 20 home runs over the first two rounds. The other semifinalists, Prince Fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers and defending champion David Ortiz of the Red Sox, totaled nine homers each.
Ortiz was the captain of the American League team and selected his roster, which featured Cano, Gonzalez and Jose Bautista of the Toronto Blue Jays. Fielder captained the NL lineup of Brewers teammate Rickie Weeks, Matt Kemp of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Matt Holliday of the St. Louis Cardinals.
Bautista, whose 31 homers are the most in the majors at the All-Star break, failed to get past the first round with four homers. Holliday hit five and was beaten by Ortiz and Fielder in a three-way tiebreaker, while Weeks (3) and Kemp (2) also were eliminated after the opening round.
Cano finished with 32 homers, the third-most by one player in the event’s history, and said he’s not concerned about the competition affecting him physically during the second half of the major-league season. The Yankees’ campaign resumes July 14 with a four-game series in Toronto.
“I feel great,” said Cano, who’s starting at second base and hitting eighth for the AL All-Star team tonight. “I’m still young and still have three days to rest and then meet the guys in Toronto.”
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