Robinson Cano in one of his worst slumps ever

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Robinson Cano in one of his worst slumps ever

From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- Hitless at the plate, Robinson Cano isn't getting a break with the umpires, either.The slumping All-Star second baseman could only plead his case to no avail Sunday after a missed call by an umpire helped the Detroit Tigers beat the New York Yankees 3-0.And just like that, the Tigers once again tagged the Yankees, taking a 2-0 lead in the AL championship series."We've just got to forget about these two games," Cano said.And the task doesn't figure to get easier in Game 3 at Detroit on Tuesday, when the Yankees face AL MVP Justin Verlander."Maybe a little change of scenery might be good," Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez said. "It's definitely not an ideal situation. You'd rather be up 2-0 and facing a Triple-A pitcher. That would be nice."An MVP-caliber player for much of the summer, Cano has been a fall flop -- all the more stunning given that he finished the regular season with 24 hits in his final 39 at-bats.And it's not just him. Four-hit by Anibal Sanchez and Phil Coke in Game 2, the Yankees are batting .205 in the playoffs (53 for 258), including 10 for 50 with runners in scoring position."We've been through stretches like this all year," said Rodriguez, hitting .130 (3 for 23) with no RBIs. "It's been a very volatile stock market for us this year."Cano is hitless in 26 straight at-bats, a record for a single postseason, and 2 for 32 overall (.063)."It is odd," manager Joe Girardi said. "You know this is a really, really good hitter that is struggling right now, and he's not getting a lot of pitches to hit."Cano's failure to run hard out of the batter's box has become glaring. And he let the ball pop out of his hand in the seventh inning, allowing Detroit's first run to score on Delmon Young's grounder instead of trying for an inning-ending double play."He is capable of making it. He knows that he has to get rid of it quickly," Girardi said. "I am not sure if he gets rid of it quickly he is safe. He knows it's going to be a bang-bang, so he has to hurry."Then Cano wound up on the wrong side of a call by second base umpire Jeff Nelson, who missed seeing Cano tag Omar Infante. Instead of the Yankees getting the third out, the Tigers expanded their lead with a two-run eighth."If it was the right call, it'd be a different game," Cano said.A week shy of his 30th birthday, Cano is looking forward to a nine-figure contract after the 2013 season, when he can become a free agent. Instead of revving his resume, he's become a big factor in the Bronx Bombers' transformation into Bronx Busts.Cano grounded out four times Sunday, and his 0-for broke the previous mark of 24 for a single postseason set by Baltimore's Bobby Bonilla in 1996, according to STATS LLC. By the end of the game, fans were booing him as loudly as they jeered A-Rod.Derek Jeter's broken ankle seems to have left most of the rest of New York's batting order hurting, too, with Raul Ibanez, Mark Teixeira and Ichiro Suzuki the only consistent threats.Rodriguez is 0 for 18 with 12 strikeouts against right-handers, and fans mocked him with applause when he made contact and flied out. Curtis Granderson is 3 for 26 with 14 Ks, Nick Swisher 4 for 26 and Russell Martin 5 for 26.Girardi sounded peeved about the lack of plate prowess."You have to make adjustments. We know what they are doing to us," he said. "They are not going to put it on a tee for us. We know that. We are more than capable of scoring runs, and have done it a number of times this year."Rodriguez said that when Yankees hitters chased bad pitches, Tigers hurlers "became predator-like" and used "sucker pitchers."Swisher complained about hearing from angry fans in the right-field corner."You're trying to go up there, you're trying to get a hit," he said. "If you don't, people let you know about it. It's a tough spot, but hey, man, I guess that's playing in New York."Hiroki Kuroda had taken a perfect game into the sixth inning and was on the verge of escaping trouble in the seventh. Following Quintin Berry's leadoff double over Granderson in center and a single to right by Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, Kuroda struck out Prince Fielder and induced a grounder to shortstop from Delmon Young.Jayson Nix, starting in place of Jeter, made a good throw to second, where Cano stepped on the bag, But in transferring the ball for the throw to first, Cano allowed the ball to pop out of his right hand as Berry scored.Kuroda tied his season high with 11 strikeouts, allowing five hits and three runs in 7 2-3 innings. But the Yankees, looking like the old team that they are, have scored just 20 runs in seven postseason games, a figure more appropriate for 1968 than 2012."This game is a very cruel game sometimes," Teixeira said. "When you're hitting, it's fun and you enjoy it, and the team's winning and you're putting up your numbers. When you're cold, it stinks. I've been cold plenty of times, and it's not a fun feeling."

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

New photo surfaces of noticeably thinner Pablo Sandoval

When it comes to Pablo Sandoval and his weight, a picture is worth a thousand words.

During spring training it wasn’t a good thing. Sandoval made headlines when a number of photos revealed significant weight gain for the Red Sox third baseman.

But the last two images have been more positive for Sandoval.

In October, a noticeably thinner Sandoval was photographed at an FC Barcelona game.

On Monday, Dan Roche of WBZ tweeted a more recent picture of the new-look Sandoval.

Sandoval, 30, is entering the third season of a five-year, $95 million contract. In his lone full season in Boston, 2015, Sandoval hit .245/.292/.366 with 10 homers and 47 RBI.

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

Red Sox taking stricter luxury tax penalties into consideration this offseason

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The newly agreed upon Major League Baseball collective bargaining agreement features higher taxes and additional penalties for exceeding the competitive balance threshold -- and don't think the Red Sox haven't noticed.

The Red Sox went over the threshold in both 2015 and 2016, and should they do so again in 2017, they would face their highest tax rate yet at 50 percent. Additionally, there are provisions that could cost a team in such a situation to forfeit draft picks as well as a reduced pool of money to sign its picks.

None of which means that the Red Sox won't definitively stay under the $195 million threshold for the upcoming season. At the same time, however, it remains a consideration, acknowledged Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski.

"You would always like to be under the CBT (competitive balance tax) if you could,'' offered Dombrowski. "And the reason why is that are penalties attached for going over, so nobody likes to (pay) penalties.

"However, the Red Sox, if you follow history, have been up-and-down, right around that number. We were over it last year and the year before that. So I would prefer (to be under in 2017). However, a little bit more driving force in that regard is that there are stricter penalties now attached to going over. And some of them involve, for the first time, differences in draft choices and sacrificing money to sign players and that type of thing. So there's a little bit more drive (to stay under).

"But I can't tell you where we're going to end up. Eventually, does it factor (in)? Yeah. But until we really get into the winter time and see where we are, will I make an unequivocal (statement about staying under the CBT)? Maybe we won't. But there are penalties that I would rather not be in position to incur.''

Dombrowski stressed that he's not under a "mandate'' from ownership to stay under the CBT.

"But I am under an awareness of the penalties,'' he said. "Last year, I would have preferred to be under, too, but it just worked for us to be above it, because we thought that would be the best way to win a championship at the time.''

He added: "I think we're going to have a good club either way.''

But it's clear that the CBT is part of the reason the Red Sox aren't being more aggressive toward some premium free agents such as first baseman/DH Edwin Encarnacion, who is said to be looking for at least a four-year deal at an annual average value of more than $20 million.

Currently, the Red Sox have nearly $150 million in guaranteed contracts for 2017, plus a handful of arbitration-eligible players, some of whom (Drew Pomeranz, Jackie Bradley Jr.) will see significant raises.

Together, with insurance premiums and others costs tallied, the Sox stand at nearly $180 million, just $15 million under the 2017 tax.

"I've said all along I've wanted to stay away from long-term contracts for hitters at this point,'' Dombrowski said of the current free agent class, "(especially) with some of the guys we have in our organization coming. I just haven't felt that that's a wise thing to do.''

The Sox saw two potential DHs come off the board over the weekend, with Carlos Beltran signing a one-year $16 million deal with Houston and Matt Holliday getting $13 million from the Yankees. Either could have filled the vacancy left by David Ortiz's retirement, but Dombrowski would also be taking on another another eight-figure salary, pushing the Sox well past the CBT.

"I figured we would wait to see what ends up taking place later on,'' said Dombrowski, "and see who's out there.''