Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon criticized New York Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long for saying two days earlier that second baseman Robinson Cano dogged it while running out ground balls when he played for the Yankees.
McClendon essentially told Long to mind his own business on Tuesday during spring training while defending Cano, who signed a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Mariners as a free agent in the offseason.
"Last time I checked, I didn't know that Kevin Long was the spokesman for the New York Yankees," McClendon told ESPN.com. "That was a little surprising. I was a little p---ed off, and I'm sure (Yankees manager) Joe (Girardi) feels the same way. He's concerned with his team and what they're doing, not what the Seattle Mariners players are doing.
"I'm a little surprised that Kevin Long is the spokesman for the New York Yankees. I wonder if he had any problems with Robbie when he wrote that book ("Cage Rat") proclaiming himself as the guru of hitting."
McClendon later added, "Anytime someone attacks one of my players, I'm going to defend him. And if you don't like it, tough s---."
Long told the New York Daily News in a story published Sunday that Cano, who became one of the top players in the major leagues during his nine seasons with the Yankees, rejected attempts made by the organization to get him to run harder to first base.
"If somebody told me I was a dog, I'd have to fix that," Long told the Daily News. "When you choose not to, you leave yourself open to taking heat, and that's your fault. For whatever reason, Robbie chose not to.
"I'm pretty sure (Derek) Jeter talked to him a number of times. Even if you run at 80 percent, no one's going to say anything. But when you jog down the line, even if it doesn't come into play 98 percent of the time, it creates a perception."
Cano refused to comment on Tuesday as he joined the Mariners for their first full-squad workout.
McClendon did not see a need to discuss hustle with the 31-year-old Cano, who had a career .309 batting average with 204 home runs and 822 RBIs while making five All-Star teams and winning two Gold Gloves with the Yankees.
"I understand," McClendon said. "I get it. I was a major league player. There are times when you hit balls and you're frustrated as hell and you don't give it 100 percent. As long as you don't dog it down the line, what's the difference between 65 and 85 percent? Just run down the line. Sometimes that stuff is blown out of proportion.
"To me, the most important thing is the guy goes out there for 160 games a year, he hits .330, he drives in over 100 runs and he hits 25 to 30 home runs. I just need Robinson to be Robinson. Like all the rest of my guys know, just don't dog it. Am I expecting you to give me 110 percent down the baseline every night? No. I'm expecting you to give me a good effort."
Long responded to McClendon's criticism on Tuesday, saying, "That's too bad. I don't consider myself the spokesman for the Yankees. If you look at all the good things that were written about Robinson, you would understand there was no malicious meaning behind any of it.
"If he wants to speak publicly like that, that is up to him. That is the way he interpreted it. I'm not going to get in a media war with Lloyd McClendon; he'd probably win that anyway. There were so many good parts, but it basically was, if anyone looks at it they are going to see that Robinson doesn't sprint down to first. I think if anyone puts a clock on him would realize that. That's it. Other than, this guy is a tremendous human being, tremendous character guy."