Upton, Cano share Player of the Week
Two young stars each put up big stretch for respective teams
Two of the American League's brightest young lights at second base shared high honors on Monday. Tampa Bay's B.J. Upton and New York's Robinson Cano have been named the Bank of America Presents the American League co-Players of the Week.
Upton may stay in center field, nevertheless, if he continues to hit like this. When he returned from the disabled list on July 13 after missing more than a month with a quad injury, he had this to say about his preferred position: "I don't care."
The Devil Rays just want the bat in his hands. Not yet 23 years old and enjoying a breakout season in his first year as a regular, Upton went 12-for-29 while drawing six walks during the week, for an on-base percentage of .514. He cracked three home runs and slugged .759, while raising his season batting average to .339.
After hitting two home runs against the Yankees on July 20 for the first multi-home run game of his career, Upton credited his superiors for their trust.
"Any time you've got a coaching staff that's behind you and they believe in you," Upton said, "it gives you all the confidence in the world."
Cano, meanwhile, watched from the opposite side of the diamond on July 20 and 21 as all three of Upton's homers cleared the fences at Yankee Stadium. Not to be outdone, the 24-year-old native of San Pedro de Macoris, D.R., rapped out multiple hits in all but one game during the week. Cano went 17-for-34 with a double, triple, two home runs and nine RBIs, and slugged .765 during a stretch in which he racked up 26 total bases.
"I'm doing the same things," Cano said. "I come out here and keep working hard every day. When you don't hit and don't do your job, you start thinking to figure out what's wrong. You don't have fun when you get no hits or do your job with men on base. It's different now."
Not long ago, it would have been difficult to anticipate such standout performances from Upton and Cano. Upton didn't expect to miss more than "a couple of days" with his injury, but his rehabilitation dragged on for more than a month; for Cano, meanwhile, it took breaking loose from an early-season slump to lead a weekend offensive resurgence in New York. The Yankees scored 45 runs in three games over two days.
"This kid is pretty special," Joe Torre said of Cano. "To play in this arena and to do as well as he has done, from where he started from and knowing the pressure that he's put himself under, and still managing to do what he's doing, I think he's got a lot of baseball ahead of him."
It is Upton's first weekly honor, and Cano's second. Other nominees included Cleveland's Ryan Garko (.556, five RBIs) and the Yankees' Hideki Matsui (.400, four homers, eight RBIs) and Alex Rodriguez (.346, three home runs, 12 RBIs). Pitchers considered were Boston rookie Kason Gabbard (2-0, 0.56 ERA, 16 IP, six hits) and Toronto ace Roy Halladay (1-0, 0.56 ERA, 16 IP).
Alex McPhillips is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.