Yankees News: Brian McCann Praises Bullpen Coach Gary Tuck


Two things you don’t hear about very often in the boogie down Bronx: The positive aspects of Brian McCann‘s  2014 debut with the New York Yankees and the astonishing impact of a bullpen coach who works specifically with catchers.

Both topics came up when McCann addressed the media in George M. Steinbrenner field on Saturday afternoon.

“I learned a lot about myself,” McCann said on Saturday. “Early in the year, it wasn’t going the way I planned it, but I settled in near the end and figured out some mechanical things that I was doing wrong.”

As he’s set to begin his sophomore year with the Yankees, McCann is one of the big name players being counted on for a bounce-back campaign. He explained that a change in his batting style impacted his numbers, but he made tweaks towards to end of the season, belting eight September home runs, and he expects to be able to carry that into the regular season.

“Certain balls that I always got to, I was fouling them off,” McCann said. “I was getting 2-0 fastballs and fouling them off over the third-base dugout. That’s something that I’ve never really done. It took me longer than I thought to correct it, I guess, and now that I’ve got it corrected, the ball is coming off great.”

McCann, who turned 31 this week, hit .232 with 23 home runs and 75 RBIs, seeing his average dip in part because of the aggressive defensive shifting in the American League East started by former Rays manager Joe Maddon. Even so, Yankees skipper Joe Girardi said that he thought McCann’s year was decent.

"“People want to look at his average and say that he didn’t have the year we were expecting,” manager Joe Girardi told MLB Insider Bryan Hoch on Saturday. “I thought he had a really good year. You think about what he went through, having to learn basically 12 new pitchers, then having to learn a whole new rotation. When you look at the end numbers, he was still pretty darn productive. I think it’s (McCann’s) ability to get the most out of his pitchers, his ability to teach young pitchers and help them recognize what their strengths are, and to use those strengths to exploit weaknesses on the batters. I think he does a really, really good job. He’s a calming influence back there. You don’t see him get too worked up, and I think he’s easy to communicate with. So that’s a pretty good package for a catcher.”"

Though McCann is naturally hard on himself and evaluates his offensive production in 2014 as disappointing, there is one large positive to take from 2014. McCann said that he believes that was his best defensive season, and he credits the influence of catching instructor Gary Tuck.

“That’s the best I’ve ever caught for a full season,” McCann said. “Gary Tuck, this guy is top of the game. He’s No. 1 in teaching catching. He opened my eyes up to … another world, and I was able to translate that on the field.”

Let’s hope Brian McCann can channel these positives and enter the 2015 stronger than last year!

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