Astros catcher McCann vows to be back this season
HOUSTON — Houston Astros veteran catcher Brian McCann pledged on Friday that he will return before the regular season concludes despite undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee earlier in the week.
McCann was placed on the 10-day disabled list on Tuesday. There is no timetable for his return.
McCann had dealt with recurring knee pain since last year. After posting a 108 OPS in his first campaign with the Astros in 2017, McCann was down to a 73 OPS this season, slashing .206/.283/.323 with five home runs and 17 RBIs over 50 games. McCann has played in 1,657 games since making his debut on June 10, 2005, catching 12,733 innings with the Atlanta Braves, New York Yankees, and Astros during the regular season.
“He’s got a little bit of mileage on him when it comes to catching games,” said Astros manager A.J. Hinch, a former catcher. “His knees have held up fine and he can play through a lot of pain. I think that’s what I appreciate the most in learning and knowing how much pain he played through. He tried, and he did a lot of things to post for our pitching staff. I think that’s one of the reasons he’s one of the most respected guys in there is what he’s willing to do to contribute.
“As his play declined, his comfort declined and what it took for him to play every day, we needed to get it taken care of.”
Right-hander Charlie Morton (10-2, 2.55 ERA) will get the start for the Astros on Saturday. Morton has faced the White Sox once previously, working seven shutout innings while allowing four hits and one walk with three strikeouts in a 3-0 victory with the Pirates on June 16, 2015.
Morton is 24-9 with a 3.18 ERA and 296 strikeouts over 249 innings with the Astros.
In his past two starts, Morton has dominated in a win against Toronto and a loss to Tampa. In a 7-0 win against the Blue Jays he struck out 13 in seven innings. The Rays touched him up for two runs, but that was enough for a 3-2 Tampa Bay win. Morton struck out 11 in 6 2/3 innings.
Right-hander James Shields (3-9, 4.12 ERA) will start for the White Sox (30-58) on Saturday. He is 1-4 with a 5.17 ERA on the road this season and 2-3 with a 3.19 ERA over seven career starts against the Astros. In his only start against Houston this season, Shields gave up seven runs in 5 1/3 innings and took the loss in a 10-0 defeat on April 20.
In 76 games (75 starts) against the American League West, Shields is 26-26 with a 3.83 ERA.
With right-hander Reynaldo Lopez working just 4 2/3 innings, the Chicago bullpen was forced to shoulder a heavy load again on Friday. Right-hander Chris Volstad, and lefties Luis Avilan and Hector Santiago combined to allow eight runs on seven hits and one walk over 3 1/3 innings in Chicago’s 11-4 loss, marking the 10th consecutive game the White Sox bullpen has surrendered a run.
Chicago relievers have pitched 303 2/3 innings this season, eighth-most in the American League.
“Obviously, (Lopez) didn’t give us the outing we were looking for,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “Worked through quite a bit of traffic, some deep counts, pitch count ran up there a bit. Had to give it to the relief corps again, which is strained.”