HOUSTON -- Veteran catcher Brian McCann's presence behind the plate could have a bigger an impact than anything else he'll bring to the club this year. And considering McCann has hit at least 20 homers for three years in a row -- and his first for the Astros in their
HOUSTON -- Veteran catcher Brian McCann's presence behind the plate could have a bigger an impact than anything else he'll bring to the club this year. And considering McCann has hit at least 20 homers for three years in a row -- and his first for the Astros in their 2-1 win Tuesday night, that's a heady statement.
After throwing seven scoreless innings Monday night in the Astros' Opening Day win over the Mariners, starter Dallas Keuchel said he didn't shake off McCann once, which means they were on the same wavelength. That's an ideal scenario for the Astros and manager A.J. Hinch, who's comfortable giving McCann most of the starts.
"I think McCann has done a really good job developing a relationship with the pitching staff," Hinch said. "They have a lot of trust in him. He has a long history in the big leagues, and that garners a lot of respect and a lot of trust. The fact Keuchel didn't shake him off is a good sign on day one, and every game situation that's thrust upon them will be a new experience for that tandem, even though they worked together in the spring."
McCann, who homered in the third inning Tuesday to give the Astros' a 1-0 lead, is entering his 13th year in the big leagues. He had caught 1,372 games in his career heading into this season, which is third-most in the Majors since 2005, trailing A.J. Pierzynski (1,921) and Yadier Molina (1,584).
McCann, as expected, is going to get the bulk of the playing time this year, with Evan Gattis splitting at-bats between designated hitter and catcher. Hinch is confident in both of the catchers handling any pitcher on the staff, but he's not necessarily set on having a pitcher throw to the same catcher each time out.
"Both of our catchers can handle the whole staff," he said. "It will end up falling a certain way, where guys handle the same pitcher over and over a little bit."
Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.