ARLINGTON -- A year ago, Robinson Cano finished the first three months of the Mariners' season with four home runs and wound up seeing a string of five straight All-Star appearances snapped due to his disappointing start.
But things certainly can change with a new season, and a renewed Cano already has four homers in the first three games of 2016 after slugging two more in Wednesday's 9-5 victory over the Rangers. His four homers are the most by a Mariner in the first three games of a season, and he's the first second baseman to homer in his team's first three games since Hall of Famer Bobby Doerr for the Red Sox in 1941.
"He's in a good spot," first-year Mariners manager Scott Servais said with a smile. "I think I've said that a few times this spring. Robbie looks great."
Cano stroked a pair of two-run shots in the Mariners' series finale, one in the first off starter Colby Lewis and the second off closer Shawn Tolleson to cap Seattle's game-winning five-run rally in the ninth.
"It was a good series," said Cano. "Not because of the way I ended up swinging the bat, but the way we ended up coming back, especially in that game, and be able to win the series. That was an exciting ninth inning, but I know we're that kind of team. In Spring Training, we showed that if we are down by five or six runs, we can come back. We are a team that can compete with anyone."
Cano's hot start helped the Mariners take two of three from the defending American League West champs, but he didn't do it alone. Seattle scored 19 runs in the final two games and did serious damage to the Rangers' well-regarded bullpen.
"I like these kind of games, where we come back as a team," Cano said. "That keeps your confidence up and shows you what kind of team you have, especially when you play in your division. The best thing I saw in these three games was the way we all take pitches and go deep in the count. We aren't chasing bad pitches. We are better than we were last year. "
It took Cano 68 games to hit his third home run of the season last year on June 22 vs. Kansas City, and he still only had four until July 1, but the 33-year-old says he's feeling much stronger and healthier this season, and his early results bear that out. Cano hit a career-best seven home runs in Spring Training and kept rolling in Arlington.
He underwent double-hernia surgery last October and says he's able to turn his hips much better this year, which is allowing him to wait on pitches longer and drive the ball to all fields.
"He told me that [he felt better] when he got here, so he was right," third baseman Kyle Seager said. "He's a special player. Everybody knows that. When you're playing through injury and nobody knows about it, that's tough. He's good. But you could tell in the spring, you can tell in BP, you can tell just the way he's walking around and moving. He looks pretty good."
After his slow start in 2015, Cano did wind up hitting .287 with 21 homers and 79 RBIs as he closed out the season with a .330 average in his final 82 games and hit 19 of his home runs in the final 89 games despite the hernia issue.
What kind of numbers could he put up this year?
"There is no goal for this season," Cano said. "For me, it's about the team. It's not about what I do as an individual. When you have wins, you have fun and enjoy the game."
And Cano and his teammates were all smiles Wednesday as they wrapped up their first road series and headed home for Seattle with a red-hot Cano leading the way.
Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.