If you have ever played the game of baseball at any level, you know that the catcher is also known as the field general. Not only is he responsible for handling the pitching staff, blocking balls in the dirt, and lining up infielders for relays home, the catcher is also responsible for team leadership.
On Friday night as the Detroit Tigers were in the midst of playing against the Boston Red Sox, something happened that could end up being one of the most defining moments of Tigers catcher James McCann‘s career.
It was the top of the sixth inning and a ball was hit up the middle, a ball that usually would make Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias‘ eyes get big. But instead of selling out for the grounder, Iglesias seemed to give up and let it go through. Though it was a play that most big leaguers would not make, McCann took notice and was not about to let it go.
Between innings, McCann approached Iglesias and appeared to call him out for not giving maximum effort on the play. Iglesias responded by shoving McCann with two hands and eventually throwing his glove at him while being restrained by third baseman Nick Castellanos.
What really makes things interesting is that McCann is a rookie on the team and rookies usually are better off keeping to themselves. They rarely step us as leaders on a baseball team.
James McCann did just that on Friday night when he made it clear that he was not going to let laziness slide. Not as long as he is around.
Former Tiger David Price tweeted out his thoughts about McCann.
James McCann WILL have a C on his chest like Varitek did…he cares and he is a leader!! He will do what needs to be done…
— David Price (@DAVIDprice24) August 8, 2015
All of this is nothing new to McCann, his leadership skills have been a strength of his for years and have not gone unnoticed by his teammates. Pitcher Blaine Hardy recognized McCann’s leadership abilities before he got to the Tigers.
“Leadership qualities for some reason are sometimes harder to describe, but when you see it, you know it,” Hardy said. “Torii Hunter was easily (a leader). You see him, ‘Yep, he’s a leader.’ Takes initiative is one part of it. You don’t realize it until you see it. McCann definitely has those qualities.
“I mean, I know this is his first year, but there’s been times where everyone is willing to listen to him. Yeah, there might be a few jokes thrown in from the veterans but they know that he’s a guy that will take initiative to try and rally the truths.”
Alex Avila has also noticed McCann’s ability to lead throughout the season.
“When you’re a catcher, doesn’t matter what your status is as far as time, you have to take a leadership role, that’s just the way it is,” Avila said. “And James has done a great job all year.
“He’s learned a lot. He’s doing everything he can to learn the league, learn the pitchers. That in itself is taking a leadership role.”
As far as getting the official “C” sewn on McCann’s jersey, that is something that may have to wait a bit. With veterans like Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler and Victor Martinez on the team, it may not be appropriate for a rookie to wear the “C” at this time. That being said, rest assured that McCann is and will be a Captain on this team moving forward and everyone now knows that.