McCann unhappy with start, happy with New York

As if he did not have enough to deal with, Brian McCann had to respond Tuesday to a New York Post article in which his former hitting coach, Terry Pendleton of the Braves, questioned the catcher’s decision to leave his home-state team to sign as a free agent with the Yankees.

“New York is not Brian,” Pendleton said during an interview at Citi Field where the Braves were scheduled against the 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. Going from Atlanta to New York is a different animal. 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.’ ”

McCann took the high road, which is consistent with his nature. He praised Pendleton for his past help during his time in Atlanta and then gently disputed his opinion. In the article, Pendleton, a former National League Most Valuable Player (1991 with the Braves), added that McCann would have been better off if he was leaving Atlanta to go to Texas rather than New York.

“I read the article; I disagree,” McCann told reporters in Cleveland where the Yankees are amid a four-game set against the Indians. “I absolutely love it here [New York]. I’ve got off to a slow start, but I absolutely love it here. It’s his opinion. That’s all I can say, it’s his opinion on it.”

McCann has struggled in the first half with a batting average some 40 points below his career mark, but there have been signs lately that despite a sore left foot he is coming around offensively. He returned to the lineup Monday and had three hits. His third-inning single Tuesday night was his ninth hit in his past 22 at-bats, a .409 pace.

“I really haven’t noticed a big difference,” he said. “It’s still baseball. It’s still you put a uniform on, you go out and put your best foot forward. That’s what I’m doing. It just hasn’t gone quite like I wish it would, but at the same time, we’ve got a whole half of baseball left. We’re in a pennant race and those are the things that I’m focused on.”

“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Sometimes it takes people a little time to adjust. I think people are just looking at his average when they’re talking about his numbers. From a production standpoint he has been pretty decent. He has done a great job behind home plate with our pitching staff. You put all those things together and yeah, he’s not hitting .280, but he’s played pretty well. I think he’ll be fine. I don’t think it will be an issue. I think he loves it here. I think he enjoys playing here. And I think Brian expects a lot from himself. So people expecting a lot from him is not going to bother him.”

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