Lakeland, Fla. — Tigers catcher James McCann put on a show during outdoor batting practice on the newly turfed Cobb Field Friday. The right-handed hitter was banging balls off the new batting cages beyond the left-center field fence and he was threatening construction workers who were working beyond the right-center field fence.
Not bad for a guy who said he’s “leaned up” this spring.
“I focused on gaining strength but keeping mobility and staying limber, staying flexible,” he said. “Last spring I came in pretty heavy and throughout the season burned it off. This year, I tried to be more in midseason shape when I showed up for camp and hopefully I will keep it the same throughout the season.”
McCann said he was 235 at the start of spring training last year and finished the season at 215. He’s at 225 now and hopes to stay above 220 all season. To achieve this, he has drastically altered his diet. Cut back on meat and potatoes; go heavy on chicken and fish and, especially, vegetables.
McCann will be 26 in June, but with this new nutrition plan, he’s looking after himself for 10-15 years down the road.
“I started paying attention to athletes who played until they’re 40 years old and what they do differently than other guys,” he said. “They take care of their bodies. I really bought into the fact that the weight room is less of a place to get big and muscle-bound as much as a place to keep you on the field and playing for a long time.”
It’s a lesson he first learned from Torii Hunter. He’s also read up on the nutritional habits of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Tom Brady. It was Brady who has him eating broiled kale.
“I read where Tom Brady’s diet is 80 percent vegetables,” he said. “That was good enough for me.”
Around the horn
General manager Al Avila said there was no timetable for the arrival of closer Francisco Rodriguez, other than to say it won’t be over the weekend.
Manager Brad Ausmus put it this way: “Please don’t ask me about it every day. I will tell you when I know something.” Rodriguez, as he has for most of big league career, is having visa issues in Venezuela.
…Ausmus said Friday that his roster heading into spring training reminds him of 2014. When asked in what way, he said, “It’s a roster in spring training without a lot of openings.”
…Former pitching coach Jeff Jones was back in uniform Friday. He is spending a few days in camp assisting with the transition to new pitching coach Rich Dubee.