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Brian McCann happy to be 'left behind'

Catcher pleased with last-minute decision to not send him to Panama
03/14/2014 1:55 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Catcher Brian McCann strides to first during a spring training game against the Nationals.(AP)
If this were any other season, Brian McCann would have loved to have gone to Panama with the Yankees - and, in fact, as of Wednesday, he was scheduled to.

But the decision was made that day to swap him with Francisco Cervelli, the idea being that it would benefit McCann more to stay behind and work with the majority of Yankees pitchers staying in Tampa - but most notably Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka, who will pitch back-to-back on Sunday and Monday.

"It just made more sense. I've caught them each once in a game, and a couple sides," McCann said Friday. "I think I'll get probably two more starts with each of them and we'll be ready to roll. I know their stuff and I know what they like to do, and if the season started tomorrow I'd be comfortable calling a game for both of them."

In addition to having to learn their repertoires, McCann also faces the prospect of a language barrier. But, he did catch Kenshin Kawakami in Atlanta, and McCann also said that no matter what language anyone speaks, baseball is universal.

"The conversations when some guys don't speak English, (including) Latin players who don't speak English, it's baseball," McCann said. "Everybody knows the key words to get the job done. … They know 'fastball,' 'curveball,' 'split.' We're good."

There will be some non-verbal communication, surely, but whether it's a veteran like Kuroda or a younger pitcher like Tanaka, the elite know themselves, so he'll worry about helping them with adjustments as they come.

"That's the luxury of those guys. They know themselves well and know what makes them successful, and they're professionals," McCann said. "That'll take care of itself. I'm not going to force anything; over time, if that needs to be done, then it will be."

The staff being comfortable with him is McCann's biggest concern, and so the newcomer has ended up not having a "typical" veteran spring; he's catching more games and longer into them, and Panama aside, has made some of the longer road trips - Viera, Port Charlotte, and next week, Fort Myers - and is learning the ropes much more quickly because of that.

"I'm catching quite a bit because I need to see these guys," McCann said. "I'm going to start catching back-to-back. I've done it once, I'll do it again, and by the end I'll probably catch three in a row, which in spring training you don't usually do. Down here I need to see everybody multiple times. It's a big deal."

And, that comfort leads to McCann being able to focus on another matter entirely: a completely new slate of American hitters.

"I know what (Yankees pitchers') stuff looks like now, so now I can start studying the opposing hitters we're going to be facing in the A.L. East - guys who swing early, guys who don't, little things like that," he said. "I can then put our pitchers' stuff with what matches up with their hitters' weaknesses. I'm getting a better grasp of it every day, guys who are going to be middle-of-the-order bats in this division. It's coming along pretty good."

Just another spring in the sun for McCann.

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