McCann tries to stay patient through 2-for-24 skid

Chris McCosky
The Detroit News
James McCann

Baltimore — James McCann is trying to fight out of possibly the worst hitting slump of his career — big leagues or minor leagues. He certainly didn’t go through anything like this last season, his first full year in the major leagues.

“It’s been a long stretch, no doubt,” he said. “But I feel like I am right there. I feel like I am coming out of it a little bit. I felt that way when I got the hit and a walk the other night (Tuesday against the Nationals).”

Then Max Scherzer came along. Three strikeouts and a game-ending ground out later, McCann resumes the battle.

After going 0-for-2 Friday, he is 2-for-24 since coming back from an ankle sprain that cost him three weeks on the disabled list. He’s had one RBI and nine strikeouts. 

“Talking to veteran guys who have been around, there are plenty of guys who have gone through struggles like mine,” he said. “They all said the same thing. It’s not something to freak out about because the longer you freak out about it, the longer it continues.”

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McCann, who didn’t play in the game Thursday, sees signs of a turnaround. In the game against Nationals Tuesday, he slapped a two-out, RBI single to right field and he also walked, laying off some close pitches.

“For me personally, when I know I’m seeing the ball better is when I start hitting the ball to the right side of the field, like I did the other night,” he said. “You let the ball get deep and not try to do too much with it. That’s when I know I am right.

“I am aggressive in the zone and taking pitches just off the plate. It’s allowing the ball to come to you instead of you trying to make it happen.”

Good times ahead?

There some similarities to be drawn between McCann’s approach to breaking his personal slump and the Tigers trying to snap out of their collective slump.

“Losing nine out of 10 is frustrating, it doesn’t matter who is in the clubhouse,” McCann said. “I’d say it’s laughable, but it is not funny by any means. But you look at the way things have gone. It hasn’t been the same thing over and over.”

No. Like manager Brad Ausmus said after the loss Thursday, it’s been something different every night. The starting pitching was bad for a stretch. The hitting has been inconsistent most of the season. The bullpen started strong and has struggled lately.

“It’s been a combination of everything,” McCann said. “And then look at some of the arms we’ve faced. How many Cy Young Award winners have we faced in recent weeks?”

There was Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg (not a Cy Young winner, but elite), Cole Hamels and Corey Kluber during this skid. 

“That said, if we want to be a postseason team, we have to beat those guys,” McCann said. “But when you combo facing guys like that with the struggles were in, it doesn’t make it easier. Do I think over the course of 162 games, we’re going to look back at these 10 games and laugh? I think so. 

“I think there’s good times ahead. Our lineup is too good not to start doing something special.”

Around the horn

How hot is Victor Martinez? Entering the game Friday, he had three or more hits in three straight games. It’s the first time since May 2011 he’s done that. Over the last 17 games, he’s hitting .448 with six doubles, three home runs and 11 RBIs. He entered Friday tied for the American League batting lead with a .362 average and second with a .422 on-base percentage.

Justin Upton, who fielded all three of his chances Thursday, made his second straight start in center field. Steven Moya, who got two hits in his season debut, got the start in left field again. 

Twitter: @cmccosky