McCann quickly showing slugging prowess

McCann quickly showing slugging prowess

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Brian McCann doesn't usually start hitting home runs until later in the spring, so the Yankees catcher hopes that it is a good sign that he has already cleared the fences in his new uniform.

McCann launched a second-inning solo homer off reigning Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer in the Yankees' 7-4 victory over the Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium on Friday, a towering blast to right field that struck the batting cages about 20 feet beyond the wall.

"I knew I hit that one pretty good," McCann said. "I don't know if I've ever hit a home run this early in camp. I got in a good count [2-0] and got a pitch middle. I was happy with the result, with the swing I put on it."

Tigers right fielder Torii Hunter playfully tried to deke McCann, settling on the warning track and acting like he was camped over the ball. McCann said that he wasn't fooled, and Scherzer said that he'd thrown a cookie to a dangerous hitter.

"Right down the middle," Scherzer said. "It was 2-0, so I said, 'Let's see how hard you can hit it.' And he hit it out."

McCann's power was a major reason why the Yankees pursued him aggressively this winter, giving the seven-time All-Star a five-year, $85 million contract.

It was an area of major need, as New York's catchers combined to slug a Major League-low eight home runs in 2013. McCann hit at least 20 homers in seven of the last eight seasons while playing for the Braves.

"That's one of the reasons we brought him here," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Not just to add from the catching standpoint, but to add offensively, and he has that ability."

While McCann is honing his swing to assault the short porch in the Bronx, he is also continuing to work behind the plate, learning a completely new pitching staff. McCann said that it won't be an issue to get both jobs done during Spring Training.

"This is the only year I probably won't complain about it being too long," McCann said. "I'm going to use all eight weeks down here to get to know these pitchers. It's going to be good, a good eight weeks."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.