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Tigers rookie McCann returns to California

MLB.com @beckjason

ANAHEIM -- Tigers catcher James McCann is enjoying his first homecoming to Southern California this weekend. The rookie just no longer calls California his home.

It was an unexpected journey that brought McCann, California born and raised, to Arkansas for college ball. He grew up in Santa Barbara as a Dodgers and Angels fan, and followed the careers of Dodgers catchers Paul Lo Duca and Russell Martin. But as McCann explains, he is at home in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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ANAHEIM -- Tigers catcher James McCann is enjoying his first homecoming to Southern California this weekend. The rookie just no longer calls California his home.

It was an unexpected journey that brought McCann, California born and raised, to Arkansas for college ball. He grew up in Santa Barbara as a Dodgers and Angels fan, and followed the careers of Dodgers catchers Paul Lo Duca and Russell Martin. But as McCann explains, he is at home in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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"I have a house there," he said. "Me and my wife live there."

It was never something McCann planned. But then, McCann said he was never a beach or surfer type growing up in Southern California. He was into baseball, and his talent made him a recruiting target.

When the Arkansas Razorbacks came calling, McCann said, he had to be convinced.

"When they called me, I had no idea where they were on the map, much less that they had a baseball team," McCann said. "I started looking into it and went on a recruiting visit, and I fell in love with it.

"The facilities are second to none. I live there now because that's where I work out. They average 10,000 fans a game, and you don't get that on the West Coast. It was a no-brainer. It was one of the easiest/hardest decisions I ever made."

It was decisive enough for McCann that he made it home even after the Tigers selected him in the 2011 Draft.

McCann does not have to check the traffic report in Fayetteville before planning on driving anywhere. By contrast, he said, his parents and many of his friends face at least a two-hour drive from Santa Barbara to see him play this weekend. If there's traffic, he said, it could easily take three hours of driving.

"I like the pace of life better there, too," McCann said. "I'm not into the high traffic, having to plan an hour and a half to go 20 miles."

McCann has been there long enough, he said, that many people don't know he's from these parts. The only obvious sign this weekend will be the small but vocal cheering section of family and friends.

Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.

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

Detroit Tigers, James McCann