Detroit — As good as the two-run home run felt, as good as the 380-foot blast that was caught at the wall in right-center field felt — nothing was more pleasing to catcher James McCann than the seed he threw to second base to nab speedy Delino DeShields, Jr., in the third inning Friday night.
“I’ve always said my favorite thing is to throw runners out,” McCann said. “Home runs are awesome but there’s nothing better than when you throw out a runner trying to steal — from a pride stand-point for a catcher and also because you just took a guy out of scoring position.
“And for your pitcher, that’s a huge momentum changer.”
It was the 12th runner McCann has caught stealing this season, second-most in the American League. And it was just the third time DeShields has been nabbed in 19 attempts.
McCann’s catcher metrics are not good this season, befuddlingly so. His overall pop time on throws to second base — time from when the pitch hits his glove to when it hits the fielder’s glove — is 2.04 seconds (Statcast), which ranks 55th in the Major Leagues.
By no actuality is McCann only the 55th best throwing catcher in baseball. His pop time on the 12 runners he’s thrown out is 1.99 — which is 26th in baseball.
“The big thing is accuracy,” McCann said. “If I can throw a 1.85, but it’s up here (meaning the fielder has to reach for it), now it’s a 2.1 because of the time it takes to get the glove down and make the tag. Or you can throw a 1.95 right on the bag and he’s out.”
That is what he did Friday night. His pop time on the throw to get DeShields was a 1.85.
“The other thing is, are the pitchers giving you a chance,” he said. “When I was in college, the scouts talked to my catching coach and asked what my pop time was. His response was, ‘What do you want it to be.’
“They didn’t understand, but his point was, if the pitcher gives him time, he’s going to be 2.0 on the bag. If we’ve got to go, then he can be 1.8 if you want.”
McCann offered this, too: The best pop time of career happened on a play in Anaheim last season. He threw a 1.64 to second base. The runner was safe.
“All statistics can be misleading, to some degree,” he said.
McCann, by the way, ranks third among active catchers with 79 caught-stealings since he broke into the league in 2015. He trails only Jonathan Lucroy (94) and Salvador Perez (80).
His home run, which provided the margin of victory, was his first in 88 plate appearances.
Martin rehab stint
Manager Ron Gardenhire said injured center fielder Leonys Martin (hamstring) would not be back until after the All-Star break. And, not until he completes at least a four-game rehab assignment at Toledo.
“He has some deficiencies in his hamstring and he has to get stronger or he will continue to have these problems,” Gardenhire said.
The Tigers are trying to get Martin on a different strengthening program than he’s been used to.
Barring any setbacks, Martin’s rehab would take place July 16-19. He could rejoin the Tigers July 20.
Tigers’ pitcher Daniel Norris, on the 60-day disabled list after groin surgery, still isn’t ready to throw competitively off a mound.
“He’s doing fine,” Gardenhire said. “He had a setback where he felt something. From what they said, it was adhesions breaking up from the surgery. But he’s back throwing again (long toss and flat ground) and feeling good.
“It’s part of the process, breaking up scar tissue.”
Gardenhire was asked if he expected Norris to be back in the big leagues at any point this season.
“I can’t answer that,” he said. “You just have to let things go day to day. I would say no, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. He’s got plenty of time. If he’s going along good, maybe we could see him in September.
“If that’s the right thing to do for him, it would be fun to see him come back up here. But I don’t have that answer for you right now.”
Around the horn
The Tigers-Rangers game took two hours and five minutes to play Friday night. That was the fastest nine-inning game the Tigers played since they played a two-hour game at Baltimore on Oct. 2, 2010.