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ALCS Game 2: Brian McCann pregame interview

October 14, 2017

THE MODERATOR: Take questions for Brian. Q. Last night Marwin has a great game. Has a baby back in Atlanta today. What do you think about all that? BRIAN McCANN: I think it's amazing. I think it was three weeks overdue, I think. So for him to have the game

THE MODERATOR: Take questions for Brian.

Q. Last night Marwin has a great game. Has a baby back in Atlanta today. What do you think about all that?

BRIAN McCANN: I think it's amazing. I think it was three weeks overdue, I think. So for him to have the game he had last night, get a chance to have his baby, and be back in the lineup is awesome.

Q. Nice socks.

BRIAN McCANN: Thank you.

Q. I wanted to ask about Verlander. Now that you've caught the guy, what is it that he does specifically that is different, that is rare, that is more difficult for other pitchers to do?

BRIAN McCANN: It's a combination of his stuff, location, studying hitters, being able to execute a game plan, and he does that about as good as anybody.

Q. First of all, were you confident that Bird was out on the play at the plate and were you surprised that they asked for the replay?

BRIAN McCANN: I knew I tagged him, but in a play like that you really don't know where you're at. So I was just hoping that I got him in front of the base and once they showed it on the Jumbotron I knew he was out.

Q. Tell me a little bit about Kenny Giles's slider, what makes that pitch so difficult for hitters to pick up and how effective is that?

BRIAN McCANN: It's not your traditional slider, it's one of those ones that it drops, it doesn't go east to west, it kind of just falls 12:00-6:00, and it comes out of the same arm slot as his fastball, throws 90, close to a hundred miles an hour, and the slider's around 90. So it's a tough pitch to, it's a tough pitch to lay off and it's a tough pitch to hit.

Q. Considering they're different styles, catching Keuchel and Verlander on back-to-back days, is there any certain challenge for a catcher to try to switch gears and go between those two guys?

BRIAN McCANN: No, because they both -- I think it's great to have one guy that's left-handed that sinks and cuts it, and another guy that's 95 to a hundred, four-seam. They both know what they're doing, so it's just about executing a game plan and keeping hitters off balance.

Q. Going back to a year ago in July when the Yankees traded a bunch of guys and then they brought up Gary to be in the lineup, what was that like for you? Because I would imagine it's the first time in your career, maybe your entire playing baseball, where you were either explicitly told or it was implied that you weren't going to be the everyday guy.

BRIAN McCANN: You know, with Gary coming up and doing what he did, I mean, there's no argument, we sawed off a bunch of pieces and we got better, and he was a big reason for it. What he's been able to do his first year and a half in the big leagues has been remarkable. He's on a historic pace. There hasn't been a catcher that's come into the league that's hit the way he's hit to start a career.

So I'm a huge fan of Gary, I think I told him in Anaheim, I don't know when it was, but I said, I want to look up in 10, 15 years and I want you to continue this success, continue on the grind. Because there's not many guys that are willing to put the gear on that can swing the bat like he can.

Q. A.J. or Kenny probably can answer this better, but he threw 37 pitches last night. Knowing him and the kind of pitcher he is, how do you think he bounces back today? Do you think he's a guy who will go in and say he can give them an inning?

BRIAN McCANN: A hundred percent. But at the same time we got a lot of options down there, a lot of quality arms that can get the job done. So depending upon how he feels this morning, he's a gamer, he's a competitor. But I'm sure they will assess that today, but knowing him, I know he'll be ready to go.

Q. There was a lot of confusion and speculation about Verlander coming here. How did you follow it and how did you find out that you guys got him?

BRIAN McCANN: Alex Cora called me, shot me a text and he said, he sent me a text that said, Game on. So it was like a huge pick-up for us, and then you get him in the mix and you see him go about it and it's even a bigger pick-up. Because he's one of those guys that makes everyone around him better, just by his presence, by his preparation. And he's one of the best competitors that you're going to be around.

Q. He just told us the other day that C.C. is like one of your closest friends. Can you describe how you guys connected and what your relationship is like.

BRIAN McCANN: Both of us have been around for a long time, and I just admire guys that can play this game for a long time, because it's not easy. Once it becomes, you wake up and you're sore every day, I don't know if there's many guys that would be pitching through the pain that C.C. pitches through.

So I think just the -- I admire him. He's a guy that, he's one of the best pitchers of our generation. In my opinion, I think he's a Hall of Famer. He's a big game pitcher. And when you're around him and you see him in the clubhouse it's just impressive, his presence is enormous.

Q. What do you think would be the best role and use for Lance McCullers? And then separately, do you think given his light workload at the end of the season that he would be capable of starting a game in this series?

BRIAN McCANN: A hundred percent. Lance was an All-Star this year and he was, if he didn't get hurt, I mean, he was out for two months, but he was one of the best pitchers, most dominant guys in baseball for the first half.

So he's getting healthy, I loved what I saw in Boston. And that decision's not up to me, I just know that he wants the ball, he's a competitor, and so it's not my call, but Lance is a guy that we all feel comfortable getting the ball.

Q. I wonder if you, going back to Sanchez, if you can kind of relate to or remember back to when you were a young catcher, relied off of your bat and having to learn veteran pitchers and some of the struggles that Gary went through defensively this year. Can you talk about that.

BRIAN McCANN: Well, first off, the Yankee staff is not easy to catch. Catching Tanaka's split when he throws it for strikes and then he buries one, it's a 90-mile-an-hour split and until you get back there and you see it firsthand, it's hard to say, Man, you should have got down there and blocked it or you should have picked it. Because it's a hard pitch, because he throws it for strikes and he'll bury one. So I had challenges as well catching him, and I think the bullpen's really tough to catch.

But, yeah, coming in the league as a young guy, being able to swing the bat, I look at it the other way, I think he's done an amazing job behind the plate. This isn't easy, you know, and putting the gear on every day, learning hitters' tendencies, weaknesses, studying, it's hard, and especially hard in New York. I think he's done exceptionally well.

Q. Can you just describe I guess maybe your feelings going into the off-season. I'm sure you felt like you still had a lot to give to the game and your abilities and also did you kind of look around at other teams and how many teams were out there that kind of would give you an opportunity to be an everyday catcher, but also contend for a championship?

BRIAN McCANN: When the season ended I kind of assessed where I was and what I wanted to do going forward and I just wasn't ready to catch once a week and I wasn't ready to DH against right-handed pitching. I didn't think I was there in my career, like you said. I felt like I had some, a lot of good games behind the plate going forward.

So I looked around and this was the first team that came to my mind, because I knew they needed a catcher, I knew the talent they had in the clubhouse playing against them, and it was just a perfect fit. They called as soon as the season was over, I talked to Cash quite a bit during that process and it was really between coming here or going to Atlanta. I'm very thankful this all worked out the way it did and it worked out for both sides.

Gary's one of the better catchers in baseball, I got a chance to come here, we're sitting here in the ALCS and we're competing. So I think it worked out.

Q. What did you think of the environment, the atmosphere last night start to finish?

BRIAN McCANN: It was incredible. The loudest I've ever heard a stadium was in 2005 when Lance Bergman hit the grand slam against us in Game 4. And I just remember standing there at home plate and my ears were shaking and ringing.

So last night was incredible, the crowd was in it from pitch 1 and we feel very confident at home playing in front of these fans.

Q. The Yankees and you guys rank near the bottom in terms of pitches that, in terms of fastball percentage, you guys have a lot of pitchers who can throw a lot of things. With velocity up why does it make sense sometimes to maybe not throw a high percentage of fastballs these days?

BRIAN McCANN:
I think the game dictates what you do. I think who you're catching dictates what you do. Whoever you have on your staff, you look at that as a whole and that's going to dictate kind of what you do. So I don't know if necessarily the way we call games or the pitching staff we have.

THE MODERATOR: Brian, thanks so much for coming in. Appreciate it.