Kevin Orris, of FantasyPros911.com, sat down with USA Team Member and Atlanta Braves Catcher, Brian McCann. Here's what Brian had to say to Kevin.
Right before the start of spring training, I was fortunate to get the chance to set up an interview with Atlanta Braves All-Star catcher Brian McCann. Some feel that McCann is a strong candidate for the 2009 NL MVP award including Atlanta Journal Constitution writer Mark Bradley.
Be sure to leave a comment below with your thoughts on Brian McCann and what you expect from him and the Atlanta Braves in 2009. More interviews are on the way!
Kevin Orris: In 2008, you developed a new batting stance during spring training. What changes did you make and how did it help your hitting?
Brian McCann: I am always tinkering with my swing. My dad and I work hard in the offseason, looking at film and just getting me comfortable. I got into my legs more, and I am always looking at my hips and hands. It is an ongoing process.
KO: How long does it take you to become comfortable with the type of pitches and pitching styles of new off-season acquisitions, such as Javier Vazquez and Derek Lowe?
BM: Lowe is sinker/cutter/breaking ball/changeup guy, so we will just work on rhythm, sequencing and spots. I'm going to get to see Javier early so we will get on the same page. I'll look at the game film, too, and get a feel for their style. But, it will mostly come as on the job training.
KO: How do you think the language barrier with Kenshin Kawakami will affect your communication and ability to work with him? Have you worked with many foreign pitchers before?
BM: I think he speaks better English than people think. We will be fine. I have worked with several Dominican and other Latin players that didn't speak much English. But, I don't anticipate this being an issue with KK.
KO: You are part of a new generation of catchers including Russell Martin, Joe Mauer, and Geovany Soto. Where do you think you rank among them?
BM: I hope that people consider me to be in the mix with them. I have tried to work extremely hard at the defensive side of my game. I worked on losing some weight this offseason and I feel lighter than I have felt in three years.
Offensively, I have always done well so I hope to continue to improve that side of my game as well. I want to be a mainstay in the middle of the order, produce runs, and be a .300 guy every year.
KO: This offseason there have been multiple reports that you have been losing a lot of weight due to a new workout plan that you have embarked on. What does that consist of, and whose idea was it to try something new?
BM: It was ultimately my idea, but I have talked to numerous people about the best way to go about it. I have continued to work out like I did every off-season, but I made a conscious effort to lose weight. I ate very well and did more cardio. Like I said, I feel as good physically as I ever have.
KO: How do you feel about the Braves off-season so far? Where does the Braves 2009 pitching staff compared to others in the league?
BM: I think we match up well. We have some new additions, and we have some guys that are not far away. We need a few pieces to fall into place, but I feel very good about our guys right now. Our bullpen should be a major plus.
KO: What was the process for you to be selected to Team USA? Have the Braves expressed any discontent with you playing for your country?
BM: Phil Seiler called me and said that they wanted me to be on the club. I was really honored. It will just be an incredible feeling wearing red, white and blue and playing for our country. I consider this baseball's Olympics for professionals, so it is truly an honor to play and be included.
The Braves haven't said one thing to me about this. I think they knew that this was something I would want to do and they respected that.
KO: You’ve played under Bobby Cox for your entire major league career. What kind of influence has he had on you?
BM: Bobby is just the best manager a player could ever ask for. He lets you prepare in your own way, and respects that we are professionals and have a job to do. He always has our back and will always protect us with the press, umpires or the fans. He is just the consummate players' manager.
I couldn't ask for a better guy to play under to start my career.
KO: What do you think has been your greatest feat as a baseball player so far? Do you ever vote for yourself for the All-Star Game?
BM: I will always remember the HR off of Roger Clemens in the '05 playoffs. I think I described that as "awesome." Well, I can't find another word to describe it. Playing in my first All Star game and winning a Silver Slugger was really special, too. Did I vote for myself? Haha, my mom would kill me if I told you that.
KO: You’ve been a big help in the Atlanta community from baseball camps to the McCann Merlot. What other philanthropic plans do you have for the future?
BM: I am really involved with the Rally Foundation to aid in funding research for pediatric cancer. I want to get more involved with Make-a-Wish Foundation, and I do things through the Braves community relations department. Being involved with charitable efforts is something that is extremely important to me and my wife.