When Brian McCann announced he would be signing with the Yankees, his former hitting coach in Atlanta was surprised. “New York is not Brian,” Terry Pendleton told the Post before Atlanta’s game Monday against the New York Mets. “That’s my opinion. I knew if he chose New York, there would be more than he expected or knew about. He’ll never be comfortable with that.”
Could this be the reason behind McCann’s struggles this season? McCann is hitting a career-low .230 and has just 10 home runs in the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. Brian is a quiet guy from Georgia who may not be used to all the press that he’s getting in New York. “Going from Atlanta to New York is a different animal,” Pendleton said. “Brian McCann is going to put more heat on himself and for him, trying to do more is the worst thing for him. I’ve learned that. “That money is hanging over his head. A lot of guys say, ‘I’ve got to live up to that,’ instead of, ‘They signed you to play your game.'”
It does seem McCann has been putting a lot of pressure on himself, and he has been pull-happy the whole season, which is not the best strategy, because teams are going to put the shift on for him every time.
“He became a pull hitter over the last three years or so,” Pendleton said. “When he got to the big leagues, he hit the ball everywhere. That’s what made him so good. “[Defensive shifting] does affect him because last year he was getting [ticked] off because base hits were going right to the second baseman. I told him to hit the ball to left field, and he’d do it a couple of times, but he had it in his head he wanted to pull. … If you’ve got pull on your mind, it doesn’t matter how far the fences are back. He’s going to pull. That’s his mindset right now.”
McCann needs to calm down, and not press so much if he wants to become one of the elite hitters he once was. It’s a must that he hit the ball to the opposite field.
I think he will become accustomed to [playing in New York],” Pendleton said. “He has to relax and do what he’s capable of doing. He said he’s not a .220 hitter, and he’s right. He’s definitely better than he’s shown. He just has to settle down.”