McCann hits slam, sees hard work paying off

McCann hits slam, sees hard work paying off

DETROIT -- James McCann belted his first career grand slam Sunday to bust things open in the first inning of the Tigers' 11-0 rout of the Astros. It was his second home run of the weekend series and third during the Tigers' six-game winning streak.

To complement his two home runs in the series, McCann delivered the game-tying hit Saturday night in the ninth inning before the Tigers went on to walk off with a dramatic win. While the young catcher's OPS still hangs below .600, McCann said he feels he has been hitting the ball well lately.

"There have been a few games where the ball has gone right at guys," McCann said. "But again, like I've said from Day 1, I'm going to stick to my approach and let the chips fall as they may."

McCann is sticking by his approach of letting slumps and hot streaks come and go, while not letting either of those go to his head. McCann said one of the best ways for him to make sure he is performing well and contributing to the team is by making sure he plays well defensively.

"There's things you can control, and there's things you can't control," he said. "I can control the way I play defense, I can control the way I prepare for a game and my scouting reports. I can control how I perform defensively, receiving and blocking, and that's what I'm focused on, because I know at the end of the day, no matter how much impact I have offensively, I can neutralize that in a heartbeat defensively."

McCann put his defense on display Sunday when, from his knees, he cut down the speedy George Springer trying to steal second base in the fifth inning.

McCann nabs Springer

McCann's name came up in trade rumors earlier this week when the Tigers were rumored to be interested in Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy leading up to Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline. While those rumors came to pass, McCann seemed to make a statement by stringing together a five-game hitting streak and a couple of important hits against the Astros.

He has worked tirelessly on his swing lately. Tigers manager Brad Ausmus said sometimes McCann may work to a fault.

"Sometimes you can get paralysis through analysis," Ausmus said. "He works on his swing every single day, and that's not even an overstatement. He probably does it on off-days in front of a mirror. And hard work pays off. Right now, he's swinging the bat much better."

McCann said he thinks the work on his swing has paid off, especially in recent games, but he does not believe anyone can be over-prepared.

"I think it's a lot easier to be under-prepared than it is over-prepared," McCann said. "At the end of the day, I never want anyone to be able to say, 'He didn't work hard enough and wasn't prepared enough.' That's never going to be an excuse."

Kyle Beery is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.