Results tagged ‘ Brian McCann ’
Brian McCann’s first few months in a Yankees uniform have not lived up to his expectations, but the veteran catcher isn’t on board with the idea that he might just not be cut out to play in New York.
McCann awoke on Tuesday to a few text messages alerting him to a story in the New York Post, where Braves coach Terry Pendleton was quoted as saying that he thinks McCann “will never be comfortable” as a Yankee.
“I read the article. I disagree,” McCann said. “I absolutely love it here. I’ve got off to a slow start, but I absolutely love it here.”
Pendleton told the newspaper that he believed that McCann would wind up with either the Yankees or the Rangers this offseason. McCann jumped at the Yankees’ offer early in the winter, inking a five-year, $85 million pact.
“New York is not Brian,” said Pendleton, who said he thought McCann would be more comfortable in Texas. “That’s my opinion. I knew if he chose New York, there would be more than he expected or knew about. He’ll never be comfortable with that.”
Despite his Georgia roots, McCann said that adjusting to life as a Yankee has not been difficult.
“I really haven’t noticed a big difference,” McCann said. “It’s still baseball. It’s still you put a uniform on, you go out and put your best foot forward. That’s what I’m doing.
“It just hasn’t gone quite like I wish it would, but at the same time, we’ve got a whole half of baseball left. We’re in a pennant race and those are the things that I’m focused on.”
Pendleton said that he believes McCann’s contract has been “hanging over his head,” with his $17 million average annual salary ranking as the largest issued to a free agent catcher.
“Not at all,” McCann replied. “Not one bit.”
Pendleton also said that McCann has become a pull hitter over the last three or so years, but believes that he will be able to relax and get back to what he is capable of doing. McCann recently changed his batting stance, eliminating a toe-tap.
“If I’m sitting here hitting .300, this isn’t a story,” McCann said. “But I’m not, and at the same time, I feel like I’ve gotten some mechanical things ironed out. I’m back to attacking the baseball, and the last four or five games I’ve felt like myself.”
McCann said that he last spoke to Pendleton during Spring Training, and that he had not decided if he would call the former big league infielder to talk about the story.
“The only part of the article [that bothered me] that I’m not a New York guy, that’s the only part that I didn’t like,” McCann said. “I absolutely love it here and it’s been great so far.”
Carlos Beltran said that the swelling behind his right knee has improved, but the Yankees switch-hitter remained out of the lineup for a second straight game on Tuesday.
Beltran said that he could be available to pinch-hit, and that the Yankees were looking at Tuesday as a ‘safety day’ before getting him back on the field. Beltran has been limited to duty as a designated hitter since hyperextending his elbow in April.
“I woke up feeling better,” Beltran said. “I’m going to go hit BP and do everything today, just to go through the whole program. But I feel a lot better. Just being able to wake up feeling better, I feel good.”
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that he hopes to have Beltran in the lineup on Wednesday.
Shane Greene celebrated his first big league victory on Monday, hurling six innings of two-run ball in a 5-3 win over the Indians, and it earned him another start. Greene is scheduled to pitch on Saturday against the Orioles in Baltimore, with Chase Whitley moved to bullpen duty.
“It’s a combination of everything. He did a really good job last night,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Giving Whit a little break will help him and maybe re-energize him as well.”
Greene earned his first Major League win on the same night as Dellin Betances recorded his first Major League save on Tuesday. That marked the third time that has happened involving Yankees pitchers, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Al Closter and Fritz Peterson did it in 1971, and Vidal Nuno and Adam Warren did it earlier this season.
Kevin Long emerged from the coaches’ room after Wednesday’s 6-3 loss to the Rays, prepared to face the music after the Yankees’ season-high fifth straight loss and their ninth in the last 11 games.
The Yankees were just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday, and though situational hitting has been one of their major concerns of the summer, it has been more difficult than anticipated to make progress in that department.
“You’re always focused on trying to do the little things, trying to score runs and trying to move runners and trying to get guys in,” Long said. “So that’s always a focus.”
Here is a rundown of the group interview that Long conducted in the Yankees’ clubhouse:
On the current issues with the Yankees’ hitters: “You’re obviously not scoring runs and you’re going to put some pressure on yourself. You’re going to try to do a little bit more. The guys are certainly well aware of what’s going on and they’re putting forth as much effort as they can. Just sometimes things don’t go the way you want them or you planned them.”
On being surprised by this, given the names in the lineup: “Yeah, it’s a little surprising. Certainly. You expect some of these guys in this lineup to perform, and at the end of the day and at the end of the year, you hope that those numbers are going to be where they should. I can tell you that they’re doing everything in their power to try to correct it. I’m doing everything in my power to try to correct it, and we’re just going to stay at it. There’s no simple formula. The work is positive and we’re working in the right directions. It’s just been tough.
What can a hitting coach do in this situation?: “You certainly can’t yell, scream or do any of that. It’s more about just staying the course and keep looking at video or maybe working on their swing or tee work, or doing flips or doing extra BP, all those things that you would normally do. Certainly that is something that we’ve really focused on and even you get away from that sometimes and you just see the ball. That’s all Beltran’s doing these last four games, and he’s been really good the last four games, so if he can continue to swing the way he has the last four. It looks like Brian McCann made a positive move today. You have to look at those things and you have to try to move forward on those, because we can’t get anything back that has already happened.”
On Yangervis Solarte needing to make adjustments: “When Solarte was swinging the bat well, he was very aggressive and he was swinging with authority. He’s just a little bit inbetween and a little bit unsure. We looked at his video and he’s a little hard to his front side and he’s just a little tentative. We’ll just stay at that.”
“I don’t think they’re pitching him any differently. He has taken some walks and for the most part swung at good pitches, but I’m sure he’s feeling it, just like a veteran would. He’s a rookie so someone like that will probably put a little more pressure on himself than maybe a veteran would.”
Encouraging signs from the rest of the lineup?: “Obviously, the top three have been pretty good all year, Jeet, Gardner and Ellsbury have swung the bat well. Ichiro has been pretty consistent all year. Teixeira has hit some home runs, driven in some runs. I think the biggest two we’re talking about is if McCann can do what he did today and Beltran — that’s four good games in a row where he’s really had good quality at-bats.
“We’ve kind of changed his routine and changed what he’s done as a DH to try to help that process become really active with him inbetween innings. Walking around, talking about things instead of just sitting in the video room and maybe thinking about an at-bat. So that’s been one adjustment that I think has moved in a positive way for us. So again I just hope that he continues on what he’s doing and McCann today was very positive.”
On Brett Gardner hitting for more power: “Gardy’s made adjustments every year he’s been in this league. He’s basically picked up where he left off last year. He’s an extremely confident individual who continues to get better and better, he’s a very aggressive hitter in the zone. He’s not late. He attacks fastballs and he doesn’t miss them. I think the consistencies of his mechanics in his swing have enabled him to this little power surge that we’ve seen.”
Ever think that maybe this is just what you have?: “It’s about winning games, and we need to do whatever we can to win games. Obviously offense has been an issue all season. These guys understand it, I understand it. We’ve got to turn it around somehow and you’ve got to believe the guys that are in the room, they’re the only guys that can turn it around. Again it’s not from lack of effort, it’s not from not wanting to do it, it’s just one of those things where we need these extra 80 games for guys to prove themselves. McCann is on a mission, Beltran is on a mission. Everybody needs to pick it up a little bit, including the Gardners, including the Ellsburys, and then these guys that have underperformed — they need to pick it up as well.”
On his early expectations for this offense: “I don’t know — obviously more than what we’ve done. Are we capable of scoring 4-5 runs a game? I would say so. Even when we had the powerful offenses, I would think four runs a game was kind of that mark that you shoot for. Jeet said it a bunch of times: let’s win innings, try to score every inning. You start there instead of trying to maybe put up a four spot or five spot all in one inning.”
On drastic changes: “Oh, we’ve done all kinds of stuff. You always make adjustments and always make changes. Nobody here probably even saw what Brian McCann did today. If you just look at his stance, look for a toe tap today and see if you see one. That’s one of those things where if you look at video, you can say see, ‘Whoa, he did make an adjustment.’ You’ll see those adjustments from guys as they go along. They’ll continue to make those adjustments to try to help themselves be more consistent.”
I had a nice chat with Mark Teixeira recently for a holiday feature about his childhood Christmas memories, a story you can read here. Of course, we also talked a little baseball. Here are some of the highlights:
On the Yankees’ offseason so far:
“I’m really happy with the moves. We had plenty of holes to fill, unfortunately, but when you can go get Brian McCann, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran before Christmas – even guys like Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson, I think can be huge pickups for us. I’ve played against Brian for 11 years; I’ve played with Kelly in Atlanta, so I know what kind of quality guys they are. They’re going to fit in great with our clubhouse. I think they’re going to do a great job on the field as well. I’m really excited.”
On his rehab from right wrist surgery:
“I’m close to 100 percent. I feel like I’m healed. I wish I was a little bit looser; my wrist is going to be tight for a while because of the way the surgery was performed. They had to kind of tighten everything up to make it secure. It’s still a little bit tight, but that’s why I’m doing rehab every day and doing exercises every day. I’ll start swinging a bat in January and that will also help loosen it up.”
On if there are any doubts about being ready for Opening Day:
“I don’t have any doubts. I have to prove to myself that I’m 100 percent and I hope I’ll be 100 percent next month. You won’t really know until you go out and play that first game in Spring Training. When someone throws a 95 mph fastball in on your hands, if I can turn on that pitch and have no tightness or no pain, then I know I’m OK.”
On his Yankees wishes for 2014:
“I would love for us to round out our pitching staff, both in the starting rotation and the bullpen. If we add a couple more pieces, I think we go into 2014 with a great shot. I know Cash has worked really hard and I give him a lot of credit for what he’s done so far. I wouldn’t mind unwrapping a present after Christmas with a couple more guys on the pitching staff and we’ll be ready to roll.”
On expecting the ’14 Yankees to be a championship-caliber club:
“That’s obvious. Even based on last year, I don’t think anybody’s expectations have changed. I’d be remiss to talk about the last time the Yankees didn’t make the playoffs, what happened in that next season. Hopefully that happens again. I’m very confident that we’re going to go into the season with high hopes and we’ll see what happens.”
Mariano Rivera has moved rather seamlessly into life as a retired player, and along with that comes the freedom to serve as an armchair general manager.
The former Yankees closer voiced his reaction to the free-agent signings of catcher Brian McCann and outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, and as he told MLB.com, they’ll help the Yankees in 2014. But Rivera still wants to see some movement on the mound.
“They have made good moves,” Rivera said. “I want to see pitching. I want pitching. Offense is good, but we need pitching. But those two players will be two great acquisitions, two good players, and hopefully they do it here in New York.”
On the pitching front, the Yankees have no sure things in the rotation beyond CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova. They’ve made Hiroki Kuroda an offer to return, and are monitoring developments with Japanese star Masahiro Tanaka. David Phelps, Adam Warren and Michael Pineda are among the others in the mix. They also need bullpen help.
Rivera also touched on the situation with Robinson Cano, pointing out that he had several opportunities over his career to leave the Yankees via free agency (remember, the Red Sox even made a serious bid for his services). Rivera stayed in New York, and he is hoping that Cano does the same.
“I chose to stay home because I grew up here,” Rivera said. “The New York Yankees are the best organization there is in sports, period. Hopefully Cano does the right thing, but I want him to be happy. Whatever he does, I want him to be happy.”
The Yankees will create the tangible proof on Thursday in the Bronx, parading new catcher Brian McCann before a gathering of reporters and photographers to herald the slugger’s first moment wearing pinstripes.
For now, a brief news release has made it official. The Yankees announced on Tuesday that they have signed the 29-year-old McCann to a five-year contract extending through the 2018 season, including a vesting option for the 2019 campaign.
The deal, worth a reported $85 million over the first five years, gives the Yankees a much-needed offensive upgrade behind the plate. A seven-time All-Star, McCann owns a career .277 batting average and leads all Major League catchers in home runs since 2005.
“The singular and unwavering desire of this organization is to construct a team each and every season designed to play meaningful baseball deep into October,” Yankees managing general partner and co-chairperson Hal Steinbrenner said in a statement.
“In Brian McCann, we feel we have made a significant improvement to a key position, while adding a high-character presence to our clubhouse. Our work this offseason has just begun, but we feel this is an important step towards what will be an exciting and rewarding 2014 season for our fans.”
The Yankees and McCann reached agreement on a contract before the Thanksgiving holiday, but the deal was held up from being officially announced until McCann could undergo his physical.
A time has not yet been given for the press conference, which will be carried live by the YES Network.