Chat with Pujols sparks change for McCann

Chat with Pujols sparks change for McCann

DETROIT -- A tip from one of this era's greatest hitters has turned things around for Tigers catcher James McCann.

During a loss to the Angels on May 31 in Anaheim, McCann drew a walk, and Angels first baseman Albert Pujols noted to the 26-year-old catcher that his lead foot was slow. So McCann worked with Tigers hitting coach Wally Joyner on two days off and got rid of the leg kick in his swing.

At the time, the catcher was hitting .150 on the season. In the 17 games since, McCann is hitting .298 with four home runs and a .579 slugging percentage.

"Really, I've got to give credit to Pujols," McCann said. "I drew a walk, there was a pitching change, and we started talking. A guy like that makes a comment about your lead foot not being down in time, his track record's pretty good. When someone like that speaks to you, you keep your ears open."

It's still an adjustment, and Joyner has emphasized to keep things simple.

"At times, I might get a little big. Wally and I have talked about it," McCann said. "If you look at my home runs, three or four have been with two strikes. With two strikes, you're just trying to put the ball in play and get short. That says a lot. Keeping things simple and not trying to do too much. Letting your hands work, your body work."

McCann said he wasn't reluctant to make a change to his hitting style. He was batting .150. Something needed to change.

"It wasn't working," McCann said. "If it's not working, you've got to make an adjustment. The game's not going to adjust to you. You've got to adjust to the game. I wouldn't say there was any reluctancy."

Other notes

• Outfielder Steven Moya is dealing with some right knee soreness and is day to day and was out of Saturday's lineup. Moya went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored on Friday night.

• Manager Brad Ausmus said the plan is still for Mike Pelfrey to start Tuesday, despite throwing 4 1/3 scoreless innings of relief on Friday night. Pelfrey last started on Monday, allowing six earned runs over five innings, but he allowed only three hits on Friday.

"Right now, he's scheduled to go Tuesday," Ausmus said Saturday. "If for some reason we need to adjust, he could always go Wednesday. He did a nice job yesterday."

Chris Vannini is a contributor to and covered the Tigers on Saturday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.