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McCann catching after getting hit on knuckles

Special to MLB.com

SEATTLE -- Brian McCann was back behind the plate Wednesday night, sore knuckles and all. The Astros catcher was hit on the knuckles of his right hand Tuesday night in the eighth inning by a pitch from Seattle reliever Wade LeBlanc. McCann remained in the game and felt good enough Wednesday to get back in the starting lineup.

"I was hoping for the best,'' McCann said. "When you get hit and your hand goes numb, your mind immediately goes to the negative, but it's fine. It's bruised and a little sore, but it's nothing that will keep me from being productive."

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SEATTLE -- Brian McCann was back behind the plate Wednesday night, sore knuckles and all. The Astros catcher was hit on the knuckles of his right hand Tuesday night in the eighth inning by a pitch from Seattle reliever Wade LeBlanc. McCann remained in the game and felt good enough Wednesday to get back in the starting lineup.

"I was hoping for the best,'' McCann said. "When you get hit and your hand goes numb, your mind immediately goes to the negative, but it's fine. It's bruised and a little sore, but it's nothing that will keep me from being productive."

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McCann is off to quite a productive start this season, hitting .333, including a two-run homer in the sixth inning Tuesday night that broke a 1-1 tie in the Astros' 4-1 victory.

Video: HOU@SEA: McCann crushes a go-ahead two-run home run

It's part of a change in mechanics at the plate for the 14-year veteran.

"I don't want to say he's had to reinvent himself,'' Astros manager AJ Hinch said about McCann. "But he's changed his bat path a little bit to be a touch flatter through the zone a little bit longer. As an older player [34], he's having to make some adjustments to maintain his offensive prowess. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?"

So is McCann going counter to the MLB trend of swinging to hit more fly balls?

"Oh, he's still swinging up,'' Hinch said. "Don't kid yourself. He's still participating in the launch-angle lovefest."

McCann had a horrible Spring Training, hitting only .069 with two hits in 29 at-bats.

"I couldn't care less about Spring Training stats,'' McCann said. "Spring for me is a time to work on things, and I knew I was going to stick to a process. I knew I was on the right track. When the lights turn on [for the regular season], you're playing a different game."

Record strikeouts

By posting 11 strikeouts Tuesday night, Astros starter Lance McCullers Jr. gave Houston its seventh double-digit strikeout total of the season, the most in MLB history through the first 18 games. The 1966 Cleveland Indians and 1973 California Angels did it six times in the first 18 games of those seasons.

Video: HOU@SEA: McCullers Jr. strikes out Seager for 11th K

Hinch really isn't surprised with his staff's strikeout abilities.

"When you look at the names that start the games for us, it's pretty impressive,'' Hinch said. "I don't know that you ever expect record-setting things or double-digit strikeouts like we've done, but I know we have an elite starting pitcher every night, so that helps. And the bullpen is coming in and punching guys out, too.

"We are a difficult team for the opposing offenses to match up with because of the different [pitching] styles we have. They have the ability to miss bats with multiple pitches. Those are good traits to have as a pitching staff."

Day off for Bregman

Marwin Gonzalez started at third base Wednesday, the first time Alex Bregman hasn't started at third this season.

"He's been grinding and I wanted to give him a chance to reboot,'' Hinch said of Bregman, who is hitting .214 with one home run and four RBIs. "I'm going to start giving some of our starters a break here and there. Alex will be back out there [Thursday]."

Worth noting

The Astros activated left-handed reliever Tony Sipp from the 10-day disabled list (right oblique strain) following Tuesday night's game and optioned right-handed reliever James Hoyt to Triple-A Fresno. Sipp has allowed one run in 2 1/3 innings this season.

Terry Blount is a contributor to MLB.com based in Seattle.

Houston Astros, Brian McCann