Tigers' McCann trying less-is-more approach

June 4th, 2016

DETROIT -- Tigers catcher James McCann has had a rough start to the season, to say the least. He entered the weekend series against the rival White Sox with a .150 batting average and just one extra-base hit. McCann is making strides to change his approach at the plate.

Actually, he's cutting strides to do so. After studying the likes of Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez, McCann noticed that neither Tigers slugger lifts their front foot very much, if at all, during their swings.

After a brief two days out of the lineup earlier this week, McCann implemented the same approach to his swing. He saw the first dividends of the changes Friday night, going 3-for-4 at the plate, just a double shy of the cycle. His three hits Friday equaled the number he had had in his previous 22 at-bats.

McCann, in his second full season with the Tigers, returned from an ankle injury in early May. He said he got off to a lot slower of a start than he had hoped, and the injury threw a wrench in his progress. The change isn't necessarily a big one, but McCann said he thinks it will help him be more consistent.

"That's the biggest thing in this game, is consistency day in and day out, something you can repeat every single day," McCann said. "With my timing at the plate, I wasn't repeating it day in and day out. It was something I was kind of thinking about, and finally, I just gave in and said, 'You know what? I need to find a way to be more consistent.'"

Something that inspired McCann to make the change was seeing Cabrera break out of a "slump" by hitting a home run off Baltimore's Darin O'Day in mid-May, barely even moving his front foot. Hitting around .280 at that time, Cabrera has gone on a tear to bring his average above .310. McCann is hoping the change will help his average rise as well.

It is much more difficult to make decisions on pitches without having the front foot on the ground, McCann said. This isn't an instant fix, he said, but it's a good place to start.

"I don't feel like I changed a lot, I just minimized my movement, and I think it's going to allow me to have better timing day after day," McCann said.