Robinson Cano may share the Mariners' second base job when he returns from his suspension

On May 15, a shock wave was sent through baseball when Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano was suspended 80 games for violating the league's joint drug agreement. And since then, the Mariners have baseball's best record at 19-7.

That doesn't mean the Mariners are better off without Cano, of course. For starters, their second basemen are hitting .188/.216/.240 with no homers since Cano was suspended, and that stinks. Secondly, the team's success dates back much further than May 15. They have baseball's second best record at 31-14 since April 23.

Cano is eligible to return on August 14, and when he does return, he may not get his second base job back outright. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick the team does not want to shift Dee Gordon back to center field in the middle of the season, so they'll have the juggle the roster a bit when Cano comes back. From Crasnick:

"We have a pretty good idea of what we want to do, but a lot of it is going to be dictated by where we are in the standings,'' Dipoto told ESPN.com. "As versatile and athletic as Dee is, it's not that easy to go play center field for a month-and-a-half and then say, 'Oh, by the way, you're going to go play second base in the biggest game of your career when you just haven't been out there.' It's going to take some juggling and we'll have to figure out a way.

"That could allow for a time-share, so to speak, where we keep everybody sharp. But we do know Dee is going to have to play second base as we come down the stretch. Because if we want to be in the postseason -- which we do -- then we know who our second baseman is going to be. And it's going to be Dee Gordon.''

...

"That's the stuff we're going to have to figure out when we get there. We all know that a lot can happen in baseball. First, we have to continue to play well. If we start to get too far ahead of ourselves in allocating playing time in late August and September as we sit here in June, that's probably not the wisest thing to do.''  

Per the joint drug agreement, Cano's suspension means he will not be eligible to play in the postseason after he returns. He can play from August 14 through the end of the season, so he can help the Mariners get to the postseason, but he won't be allowed to play in the playoffs. The Mariners of course have baseball's longest postseason drought.

With Cano sidelined, the Mariners have been playing Gordon at second base and Nelson Cruz at DH with a four-man outfield rotation of Mitch Haniger, Denard Span, Guillermo Heredia, and Ben Gamel. Once Cano returns, could he end up playing some first base? He's never done it in his career, but it is a potential landing spot. Ryon Healy has been mostly okay at first base so far this season, though he's not someone who should get a lineup spot over Cano.

Cano's return is not imminent and these "we have too many good players" situations always seem to take care of themselves. Players get hurt, they play their way out of the lineup, all sorts of things can happen between now and Cano's return that answers the "where do we play everyone?" question for the Mariners.

CBS Sports Writer

Mike Axisa joined CBS Sports in 2013. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for MLBTradeRumors.com, FanGraphs.com, RotoAuthority.com,... Full Bio

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