NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Terry Pendleton knows a thing or two about hitting. He also knows Brian McCann better than most.
The Atlanta Braves’ first base coach says he’s not convinced the Yankees’ high-priced catcher will ever feel at ease playing in the Bronx.
“New York is not Brian,” Pendleton told the NY Post prior to Atlanta’s 4-3, 11-inning loss to the Mets at Citi Field on Monday. “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.
“That money is hanging over his head,” Pendleton added. “A lot of guys say, ‘I’ve got to live up to that,’ instead of ‘They signed you to play your game.’”
Signed in the offseason to a five-year, $85 million contract, McCann, a career .277 hitter during his nine seasons with the Braves, has mostly struggled at the plate. Heading into the Yankees’ game at Cleveland on Tuesday, he was hitting .231 with 10 home runs and 38 RBI.
“If I had to choose where he went, nothing against the Yankees, they’re one of the best organizations around, but I think he’d be more comfortable in Texas,” said Pendleton, who started working with the now-30-year-old McCann more than a decade ago. “But he wants to win and when he looks at that, you’ve got to go to the Yankees.
“Going from Atlanta to New York is a different animal,” Pendleton added. “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.”
WFAN’s Sweeny Murti spoke to McCann on Tuesday afternoon in Cleveland, and the lefty slugger all but dismissed Pendleton’s comments.
Pendleton won the 1991 NL batting title and NL MVP award after hitting .319 with 22 home runs and 86 RBI for the Braves. He batted .270 over 15 seasons, mostly with Atlanta and the St. Louis Cardinals. He said the league’s fascination with the shift is having an adverse effect on McCann’s approach at the plate.
“He became a pull hitter over the last three years or so,” Pendleton said. “When he got to the big leagues, he hit the ball everywhere. That’s what made him so good.”
The Yankees as a team have struggled all season offensively, but their bats have shown signs of life of late, producing 28 runs over the last five games, in which the Bombers have won four to stay within 3 1/2 games of first-place Baltimore in the AL East. McCann has picked up his game a bit as well, hitting .389 over his last four games (7-for-18), including three hits in the Yankees’ 5-3 victory over the Indians on Monday night.
“I think he will become accustomed to it,” Pendleton said. “He has to relax and do what he’s capable of doing. He said he’s not a .220 hitter and he’s right. He’s definitely better than he’s shown. He just has to settle down.”
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