August 11, 2014 at 2:35 pm

Tigers' Dave Dombrowski explains decision to leave hot-hitting catcher James McCann down in Toledo

Catching prospect James McCann was a second-round pick by the Tigers in the 2011 draft. (Elizabeth Conley / Detroit News)

Detroit — The Tigers absolutely raided their Triple-A affiliate Monday, calling up four players to join them for the night’s game in Pittsburgh.

One of the four, however, was not catcher James McCann, whose continued exclusion from the major-league roster has become a hot point of contention among the fans.

“We feel it is better for him to continue to play every day and develop at Toledo,” Dave Dombrowski, Tigers president and general manager, told The Detroit News.

The Tigers’ recent struggles, particularly offense, clearly haven’t changed Dombrowski’s mind.

Where McCann, seemingly, would help is against left-handed pitchers. Starting catcher Alex Avila has struggled mightily against lefties, with a .216/.258/.307 slash line, with 35 strikeouts in 88 at-bats. Avila’s backup, the right-handed-hitting Bryan Holaday, has been even worse, at .169/.215/.203 against left-handers.

McCann, meanwhile, has destroyed left-handed pitching in Toledo, the right-handed hitter posting a blazing .934 OPS over 112 at-bats against southpaws in 2014. That’s not enough to sway Dombrowski, though.

“We normally do not face many left-handed pitchers,” he said. “So it would not allow him much of a chance to play.”

Nearly 30 percent of the Tigers’ at-bats this year have been against lefties, and nearly 35 percent, they’ve faced a left-handed starter. But there’s more to the decision that just offense, too, Dombrowski added.

“Also, for a catcher, it is important for him to have a feel of the pitching staff. (It’s) tough to learn, although not impossible, at this time of year,” he said. “Bryan Holaday has done fine for us in his role.”

McCann, 24, was a second-round pick by the Tigers out of the University of Arkansas in the 2011 Major League Baseball draft.

On Monday, four other Toledo Mud Hens got the call up following the 19-inning marathon in Toronto — Ian Krol, Justin Miller, Kevin Whelan and Robbie Ray, whose expected Wednesday start now should be Tuesday, because Rick Porcello had to pitch out of the bullpen Sunday.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

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