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Cano makes late shift to SS in Yanks' loss to O's

Saturday - 4/13/2013, 8:58pm  ET

New York Yankees second basemsan Robinson Cano plays shortstop in the ninth inning of a 5-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles in a baseball game at Yankee Stadium in New York, Saturday, April 13, 2013. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

BEN WALKER
AP Baseball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Yankees' makeshift infield got yet another makeover Saturday. Now playing shortstop, Robinson Cano.

The Gold Glove second baseman switched over for the ninth inning in a 5-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, ending New York's four-game winning string.

How did things feel over there?

"Weird," Cano said.

Cano didn't get any balls at the new spot. This is his ninth season in the majors, and he's never played anywhere except second -- the last time he tried shortstop was a decade ago in Double-A.

But with Derek Jeter injured, Eduardo Nunez sitting out a day after being hit by a pitch and starter Jayson Nix leaving for a pinch-hitter in the eighth, Cano moved over.

"I was ready, I take groundballs over there with Jeter and with Nunez, joking around and serious. I was ready," Cano said.

The Yankees have done a lot of infield improvising this year with Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Jeter sidelined. Cano said he was ready last weekend to debut at short, and was prepared to do it again.

Once Nix was pulled, catcher Francisco Cervelli moved to second base and Cano slid over.

"I knew exactly what I was going to do if we got in that situation," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Cano took warmup grounders on the left side of the infield before the first pitch. He showed off his superb relay skills in the second inning, catching right fielder Ichiro Suzuki's toss and zipping a throw to the plate to get Nate McLouth.

Nolan Reimold, Ryan Flaherty and Nick Markakis hit solo home runs for the Orioles. McLouth doubled twice, singled and made a nifty catch in left field to back Jason Hammel (2-1).

Orioles reliever Brian Matusz, Darren O'Day and Jim Johnson each pitched a scoreless inning. Johnson closed for his fifth save, shutting down a team that tagged him in last year's AL playoffs.

Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells hit solo homers for the Yankees. Phil Hughes (0-2) was booed off the mound after giving up three long drives in three-plus innings.

Reimold provided a rare boost from the DH slot. Baltimore designated hitters began the day with a mere single and zero RBIs in 33 at-bats this season until he homered in the fourth. It was a loud shot, too, from the ninth-place hitter, with the crack of the bat reverberating around Yankee Stadium.

Down 5-2 in the fourth, the Yankees put two runners on with one out. Lyle Overbay hit a long liner to the opposite field, but McLouth hurried back, stuck up his glove and made the catch on a tough ball.

Orioles Gold Glove shortstop J.J. Hardy bounced a routine throw for his first error of the season, All-Star Adam Jones flung his bat and helmet after chasing strike three and even McLouth, known for his hustle, appeared to coast around the bases and ran through a stop sign for an easy out at the plate.

Hughes never looked comfortable, and taking Matt Wieters' hard one-hopper off his body on a chilly afternoon didn't help, either. Slowed in spring training by a bulging disk in his back, Hughes lost his season debut last weekend after coming off the disabled list to start at Detroit.

"I don't think there's anything to be concerned about," Girardi said. "It's his second start of the year. He didn't really have good command of his fastball today, he made some mistakes with his fastball today and they hit him."

Reliever David Phelps kept the Yankees close, giving up one hit in four shutout innings and striking out six.

NOTES: Nunez left Friday night's game after being hit by a pitch in the right wrist. The Yankees said he was OK. ... Yankees RHP Chien-Ming Wang threw the equivalent of 5 2-3 scoreless innings against the Pirates in his second extended spring training game. He said he felt close to being ready to pitch in a regular minor league game. ... The Yankees and Indians will play a traditional doubleheader on May 13 in Cleveland to make up for a pair of recent rainouts. ... Girardi said the rehabbing Rodriguez was at the stadium. "I was not aware he was coming but he was in the dugout. I talked to him, I hadn't seen him since last homestand. He said that he's doing more and more each day. And although it was slow he actually got on a treadmill the other day and he was pretty fired up about that," Girardi said.


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