TAICHUNG, Taiwan — Robinson Cano has earned standing ovations in front of sold-out World Series crowds at Yankee Stadium. He earned another — one with a different and greater meaning — on Thursday afternoon in Taichung City.
Cano was the special guest of the city of Taichung’s China Medical University Hospital, where he visited children, providing happiness and comfort to some of his biggest fans, even if they take in their Yankees games more than 10,000 miles from the Bronx.
Cano traveled to the hospital with his father, Jose, who pitched professionally in Taiwan for five seasons in the 1990s, and was greeted by doctors and their young patients, star-struck hospital staff and Taichung mayor Jason Hu.
“It’s an honor to be here today and also to spend time with the kids and hopefully to make them smile,” Cano said. “I know I’m going to have a great time, because I love kids, and this is always the kind of thing I like to do — to spend time, because I know we always have a good time on the field and off the field.
“And it’s always good to come to see the kids who can’t go to the field or watch the players or even go to the games.”
The games here continue in the 2011 Taiwan All-Star Series, with Cano’s club of MLB All-Stars having won Games 1 and 2 of the exhibition set against the Chinese Taipei national team. The teams will play their next game in Taichung on Friday. Game 3, played at Intercontinental Stadium, will air Friday at 9 p.m. ET on MLB.TV and MLB Network. Games 4 and 5, played at Chengcing Lake Stadium in Kaohsiung, will air on MLB.TV and MLB Network at 5 p.m. on Saturday and at 9 p.m. on Sunday.
But before Cano got settled in the clubhouse and put on his uniform to go to work, he made sure to take time to brighten the lives of those who need it the most. And while he made the children smile, they did the same for him.
Cano was greeted by a group of youngsters who performed a dance routine on the stage, and he then took the stage himself, offering salutations, answering questions, giving an impromptu baseball clinic and signing autographs.
When he was asked how he hits so many home runs and why they go so far, Cano gave a simple answer.
“I lift,” he said. “I work out. I do a lot of exercise. Lifting weights is where I get a lot of the power from, and that comes from my family, too.”
Not surprisingly, the next question also involved home runs, as in, would Cano promise to hit a home run in that night’s game?
He laughed, paused, and answered in an inspiring but still-sensible manner.
“I promise,” he said, “I will do my best.”
It was an emotional afternoon, and the importance of it was not lost on Cano’s father, who sat and watched with pride.
“I’m very proud,” Jose said. “When he was a little kid, all he wanted to do was play baseball, but you didn’t know what was going to happen in the future. And now you see Robinson here in Taiwan, and coming to the hospital to talk to the children and say hello to everybody, and it’s amazing. I hope he continues to be the way he is right now.
“Being a good person comes from his family. Everything comes from the family. You want a kid like that. It touches your heart. And when I heard about the chance to come to Taiwan, I thought probably he wouldn’t want to come, because it’s so far away. And he said, ‘I don’t care. I want to come to Taiwan and play ball. You played there, a lot of people know you, and even though it’s far away, I’d be happy to be there.'”
On Thursday, the children at a hospital in Taichung were happy to see Robinson Cano, and he was happy to see them.
“It’s important to give back to the kids in the community,” Cano said. “I do the same things every year, so it was important in another country to do the same thing here. … You get to see them smiling, and the way they danced today, that little show they did … I really had a great time there.
“It meant a lot to me.”