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White Sox catcher James McCann gets well against former team

A more relaxed approach has helped McCann, a former Tiger, turn things around at the plate.

White Sox catcher James McCann connects on an RBI double during the first inning against the Tigers. (Getty Images)
Getty

DETROIT — White Sox catcher James McCann’s batting average dropped 40 points, going from .316 at the All-Star break to .276 last weekend.

But he started to get well against his former team this week, with seven hits — including three doubles — in 14 at-bats in a four-game series against the Tigers.

‘‘Just not pressing as much,’’ said McCann, who was 3-for-5 with three RBI in the Sox’ 8-1 victory Wednesday against the Tigers. ‘‘The hardest thing when you’re going through a tough stretch is you’re searching for hits and start to press and start to swing at pitches that aren’t your pitches, and it all kind of spirals into what makes it a bad stretch. The best thing you can do to come out of it is to relax. Allow it to happen instead of trying to make it happen.’’

Right-hander Ivan Nova (7-9) pitched eight scoreless innings, Tim Anderson was 4-for-4 with a walk and Jose Abreu had three hits and two RBI as the Sox won their second consecutive series on the road.

McCann doubled in a run in the first, Ryan Cordell hit a 450-foot home run in the second and the Sox (51-62) never looked back. They took three of four games from the lowly Tigers after taking two of three from the Phillies, completing a 5-2 road trip for a much-needed reversal after going 4-14 coming out of the All-Star break.

‘‘It’s a road trip that very easily could have gone in the opposite direction for us, but the tenacity of this team, we were able to go 5-2 on the trip,’’ said McCann, who made his first All-Star team last month. ‘‘That’s pretty good, considering what we had to go through.

‘‘It was important to get things back on track. Regardless of when it happened, it needed to happen. This road trip was a good time for it to start clicking again.’’

McCann batted .240/.288/.366 in parts of five seasons with the Tigers, who drafted him in the second round in 2011. His work handling the pitching staff has been highly valued, so whatever he provides offensively above his career norms can be considered gravy.

To hit well above .300 would be a lot to ask, but keeping his hitting line close to where it’s at now — .288/.342/.463 — might not be out of the question. The on-base percentage ranks second among American League catchers, and the average (.288), slugging (.463) and OPS (.805) are third.

‘‘It is what it is,’’ McCann said of his recent drop to more reasonable levels. ‘‘You look across at a six-month season, and there will be weeks that are really good and weeks that are really bad. Over the course of the season, it all evens out.’’

‘‘Everybody has their peaks and valleys,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. ‘‘He grinds, works and doesn’t change his approach. His confidence is always there. Baseball is such a long season, you expect a little fall-off.’’

This was McCann’s second visit to Detroit since the Tigers declined to pick up his option last offseason and the Sox signed him to a one year, $2.5 million deal that has turned into one of the top bargains in baseball.

‘‘There’s a lot of memories here — the stadium and the city,’’ McCann said. ‘‘But at this point, it’s just another road series.’’