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Right on: McCann eyeing opposite-field hits

MLB.com @brianmctaggart

HOUSTON -- Considering the amount of work Astros catcher Brian McCann put in during the offseason to be able to hit the ball the other way more often, hitting a homer into the Crawford Boxes in left field on Tuesday against the Mariners was something he can build on.

According to Statcast™, McCann hit only one home run to left field during his three seasons with the Yankees, coming last July against Corey Kluber in Cleveland. McCann hit 69 homers total while with the Bombers. In his first nine years in the Majors with the Braves, he sent eight of his 176 homers to left, but he became more pull happy with the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium.

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HOUSTON -- Considering the amount of work Astros catcher Brian McCann put in during the offseason to be able to hit the ball the other way more often, hitting a homer into the Crawford Boxes in left field on Tuesday against the Mariners was something he can build on.

According to Statcast™, McCann hit only one home run to left field during his three seasons with the Yankees, coming last July against Corey Kluber in Cleveland. McCann hit 69 homers total while with the Bombers. In his first nine years in the Majors with the Braves, he sent eight of his 176 homers to left, but he became more pull happy with the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium.

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"It's hard not to," McCann said. "Right field is so short and left, left-center, it's hard to hit the ball in the gaps there. I think over time, I felt like I was doing just enough to do a wholesale change and last year was like, 'it's time.'"

McCann said the adjustment was more about hitting the ball "where it's pitched," though that led to some adjustments with his front shoulder. Not letting the ball get so deep into the plate also means he'll make contact earlier, making it more likely he'll hit some balls to left field.

"I spent a lot of time getting my swing back to where it was when I first broke in and my first seven, eight years," he said. "It was nice for it to pay off."

Hitting the ball the other way more will help neutralize the shifts McCann sees regularly. In the seventh inning on Tuesday, McCann grounded out against lefty reliever Marc Rzepczynski on a ball Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano fielded in shallow right field.

"It's not going anywhere," McCann said of the shift. "At the same time, I need to be good enough to hit the ball where it's pitched."

McCann is just two shy of tying Ted Simmons for 11th all-time in homers by a catcher, and McCann ranks second all-time in homers (246) by a left-handed-hitting catcher, trailing only Yogi Berra (358).

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Houston Astros, Brian McCann