Why Oriole pitchers appreciate catcher James McCann - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Why Oriole pitchers appreciate catcher James McCann

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports


SARASOTA, Florida—Adley Rutschman is one of the best catchers in baseball, and the Orioles are fortunate to have one of the best backup catchers in James McCann. In his decade in the game, which includes playing for the Tigers, White Sox and Mets, the 33-year-old McCann has caught two no-hitters and 25 pitchers who have been chosen for an All-Star team.

McCann has a number of admirers, including the manager. Here’s what they had to say as McCann gets ready for his second year with the team:

Manager Brandon Hyde


“Super important to Adley, but also our whole team. He really brings a great leadership presence. He is unbelievably professional, holds guys accountable. It’s important to him. It’s important to him that we have a great environment, that we have a winning environment. He was wonderful to Adley last year, really helps during the game, helps in meetings, but also he speaks up when we have team stuff going on.”

Félix Bautista-2023 All-Star (though Orioles translator Brandon Quinones)

“He was great back there. I felt really good throwing it to him. We had a great pitcher/catcher connection, not only on the field, but in the clubhouse as well. He would constantly give me feedback and advice, and that was huge.”

Corbin Burnes-3-time All-Star and NL Cy Young Award winner in 2021

“Him being around the game for so long, him being a veteran guy, [he] knows how to call a game and handle a pitching staff, which he’s done with some very top names in the league, some very good pitching staffs. You see the work he puts in. He’s one of the first guys here. He works his butt off to not only get his work done in the weight room but his work and preparation done to help other guys. Speaking with him, you can hear the knowledge that he has about pitching and catching and pitch framing and setting up hitters. That’s something that I think is good for this pitching staff, and good for Adley as well.”

Yennier Cano-2023 All-Star (through Orioles translator Brandon Quinones)

“He’s been a huge help. I remember last year, my slider was my best pitch, and I wasn’t throwing it a lot, but he would insist that I throw it. Things worked out pretty well, so when I got back to camp this year, I went up to him and said thank you for insisting on calling that pitch and giving me the confidence to continue throwing it. He was like, ‘of course, that’s what we’re here for,’ and thankfully having him back here. It really does help a lot.”

Craig Kimbrel-9-time All-Star

“From what I can see so far, it’s a combination of him being really good behind the plate and being a really good receiver and his ability to communicate, get on the same page. The more you can go out there and not have to question what’s going on behind the plate, and you can trust what’s going on behind the plate, the better your outcome is going to be. He’s been able to be in the game for this long and been able to catch some great pitchers, been able to be a part of a lot of great teams, and I don’t think that’s any coincidence. His attitude and what he brings to each and every team outside of how good he is behind the plate. It’s a great combination.”

Dean Kremer

“He was groomed by the right set of people … He got to experience a lot of those guys, and the way that they do things, the way that they like their setup, and I’m sure they’re all different in their own way and then kind of grooming us the same way. He knows what good pitchers do. We’re trying to be good pitchers. I think the experience sets him apart more than anybody else.”

John Means-2019 All-Star

“I think with that experience, you just kind of learn. He seems to learn pitchers very quickly, and he seems to understand, ‘OK, this is how this guy wants to work, and he adds some little touch to it. It’s very professional, and he does a great job. He’s the first one here doing blocking drills, doing everything. You learn what you need to do over that time, and he’s done a great job over his career.”

Jacob Webb

“I would probably say his presence behind the plate and his ability to game plan within the game … Having the presence and awareness of what the hitter is trying to do, being able to alter the game plan if you need to be. You can tell he’s got a good mind. I wouldn’t say so much about comparing because every guy’s different. Every pitcher is different, and they’re trying to execute a different plan, but talking to him, he’s got a good feel for who you are as a pitcher and what you should try and attack with and how you should try and attack … He just understands what you’re trying to execute and also what he’s trying to execute as a game plan.”

Cano (on McCann speaking Spanish)

“He knows a couple of words. He’ll tell me, ‘more sliders. Good job on the slider.’”


“He definitely brings a calmness if he comes out there on a mound visit. I also know he has a plan and he does his homework. He’s known a lot of these guys throughout the years or seen a lot of the guys that we play against over the course of the years, so experience mainly, and I know he has a plan.”


“He keeps it different for every guy and he just learns who it is and how they want to go, and what intensity they want to work at, and just how to communicate. It’s what he does and what he’s known for. He just does a great job at it.”

Webb on McCann thinking like a manager

“You see it a lot with managers … I think that stems from understanding a game to a deeper level. They’re in every pitch pretty much. They’re seeing one through nine multiple times. They just have a different view than a lot of other players on the field.”

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