Padres sign Robinson Canó, plan to use him off the bench

ATLANTA (AP) — The San Diego Padres have signed veteran second baseman Robinson Canó to a major league contract and plan to use him as a left-handed bat off the bench.

Canó was not in Friday’s lineup against the Atlanta Braves. Acting manager Ryan Christenson said he could get some occasional starts at second and designated hitter.

“I’ve got a lot left in the tank,” Canó said. “I know I can still play this game and just go out on top.”

The New York Mets, who released Canó on Sunday, owe him nearly $45 million remaining on his original contract signed with Seattle. He will earn a prorated share of the $700,000 minimum.

Canó, 39, was designated for assignment on May 2 after hitting .195 with one home run and three RBIs in 43 plate appearances for the NL East-leading Mets. He sat out last season serving a second suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

“I missed the game,” he said. “I would say every bad situation you’ve got to take the good things out of it. I had a chance to spend time with my kids, being a dad. My daughter’s only 5. My son is 11. You’ve just got to move on and turn the page.”

Canó spent the last week at his home in the Dominican Republic, working on baseball activities.

“I went down to see live pitching, take ground balls, running and do all kinds of stuff because in New York I wouldn’t do it,” he said. “Me and my dad have our own field in the Dominican.”

Canó indicated that his time with the Mets ended because he wasn’t able to play every day. He won’t get that opportunity with the Padres barring something unforeseen.

“It’s kind of like I don’t want to blame that — not playing every day — but it’s something that I’m not used to,” he said. “It’s something that’s going to take time. It is what it is. There’s no hard feelings. I’m just thankful here for the opportunity. I just move on and turn the page. Now I’m here and I want to help this team to win games.”

Christenson, who’s taken over while manager Bob Melvin recovers from prostate surgery, plans to get Canó in the lineup in the next few days.

“As we get into this road trip and if we’re looking to get someone a day off, then maybe we’ll discuss a DH or maybe some second base,” Christenson said. “He’s going to be used as a pinch-hitter off the bench.”

Canó has a .302 career batting average with 335 home runs, 1,305 RBIs and an .842 OPS in 17 seasons. He has 2,632 hits, including 571 doubles. Canó is owed nearly $45 million by the Mets from the remainder of the $240 million, 10-year contract he signed with Seattle. He has lost over $35 million because of the two drug suspensions.

San Diego is responsible for just $561,538, a prorated share of the $700,000 minimum, with the Mets responsible for the remainder of his $24 million salary this year plus $24 million for 2023.

Seattle remains responsible for a final $3.75 million payment to the Mets this Dec. 1, part of $20 million the Mariners agreed to pay New York at the time they sent Canó to the Mets in a polarizing trade made by former New York general manager Brodie Van Wagenen in December 2018.

With the fourth-highest career batting average among all active major leaguers, Canó trails Miguel Cabrera (.310), José Altuve (.307) and Mike Trout (.305). He ranks third among active players in hits, RBIs, total bases, extra-base hits and runs scored. Canó has 316 homers as a second baseman, second all-time to Jeff Kent’s 351.

The Padres optioned pitcher Dinelson Lamet to Triple-A El Paso in a corresponding move.

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