By almost any measure, the 2015 season has been the worst of Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano's extremely productive career. He comes into Monday hitting .248/.289/.363 (87 OPS+) with five home runs after putting up a .310/.358/.499 (127 OPS+) batting line in the first 10 years of his career.
During a recent interview with Jorge L. Ortiz of USA Today, Cano opened up about two things that may be affecting him on the field. First and foremost is the death of his paternal grandfather Ovidio, who died in March following a battle with lung cancer.
Ovidio Cano would be the first one to notice his grandson's offensive fluctuations, keeping a notebook with his stats from every game. After his passing, the younger Cano retained the notebook as a memento, but he no longer has that emotional support.
"He was my No. 1 fan," Cano said. "If he were alive now, he would call me and say, 'Hey, what's going on? Last year you had better numbers. What's happening? Are you OK?'"
Aside from his grandfather's death, Cano also revealed that he has been dealing with a stomach ailment since last August, though he declined to use it as an excuse for his poor season. Cano didn't get it checked out until after the season, when doctors told him he has a common parasite, which has left him with acid reflux.
"It still affects me," Cano said. "Sometimes you drink water and it makes you feel like vomiting. I can't eat the same way I did. It's hard to deal with, especially being the first time this has happened to me. Sometimes I eat only once a day before playing, because I feel full. And you just don't have the same energy."
An avid seafood eater, Cano has eliminated red meat from his menu because it takes long to digest, and the acid reflux delays the digestive process. Despite diet changes and medication, the condition persists.
"Sometimes I play without any strength or energy, but you have to play, give the best of yourself," Cano said. "Some people may say, 'Cano, he's listless.' But (the energy) is not the same."
For what it's worth, Cano hit four home runs in the span of 12 games early last August, then fell into a slump that saw him hit .267/.333/.387 with three home runs in the final 41 games of the year. So the fall in production coincides with the stomach issue timetable.
It's going to sound like Cano is making excuses for his poor season, that's just the way it is, but obviously both the death of his grandfather and the stomach ailment could be hurting him on the field. These players are human beings, after all. They grieve when they lose loved ones and get sick like everyone else.