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After All-Star season, White Sox catcher James McCann soldiers on in backup role

“It is what it is,” James McCann said. “There’s things about the business that you can’t control.”

“There’s things about the business that you can’t control,” White Sox catcher James McCann said. “All you can control is how you handle your own self and how you handle your own preparations, and that was my main focus throughout the offseason.”
“There’s things about the business that you can’t control,” White Sox catcher James McCann said. “All you can control is how you handle your own self and how you handle your own preparations, and that was my main focus throughout the offseason.”
Paul Sancya/AP

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Yasmani Grandal signed his four-year, $73 million contract, a record for a White Sox player, after James McCann signed on for another year after his All-Star season.

What it means for the Sox is they are very deep at catcher. What it means for McCann is a backup role he wasn’t expecting.

“It is what it is,” McCann said Wednesday, the first official day for pitchers and catchers at spring training. “There’s things about the business that you can’t control. All you can control is how you handle your own self and how you handle your own preparations, and that was my main focus throughout the offseason, and that will continue to be my main focus: how to make myself better and how to help the team win.”

So McCann, who became a solid clubhouse leader in his first year on the South Side in 2019, will soldier on in a role he can’t be thrilled about, especially as he looks ahead to being a free agent after the season.

“I’m just here doing my job,’’ he said. ‘‘Whatever they ask me to do, I’ll do.’’

Although he said the right things, it seemed obvious the worker and competitor in him wanted more. He certainly expects more from the Sox in 2020.

“If I said we weren’t trying to win a World Series, then I’d be lying,” McCann said.

A lofty goal, indeed. McCann also knows having depth is needed to attain such goals.

It’s like what top prospect Nick Madrigal, who is competing for a second-base job this spring, said.

“The great teams have competition from position to position,” Madrigal said Wednesday. “That’s what drives the greatest teams.”

Lopez’s offseason

Looking to increase his fastball spin rate and to be stronger mentally, right-hander Reynaldo Lopez, 26, trained at Mamba Academy with Lucas Giolito and Noah Syndergaard this offseason.

Losing focus has been an issue for Lopez, who has flashed long stretches of excellence and failure during his two full seasons with the Sox. He approached the Sox’ team psychologist after the season and a psychologist in the Dominican Republic.

“Last year was a year of too many ups and downs,” he said.

Lopez (3.91 ERA in 2018, 5.38 last season) realizes his spot is far from guaranteed in the rotation.

This and that

Position players aren’t required in camp until the first full-squad workout Monday, but as of Wednesday, Luis Robert, Edwin Encarnacion and Eloy Jimenez were the only players expected on the Opening Day roster not in camp.

† General manager Rick Hahn said an injury in the rotation wouldn’t rush Michael Kopech into making the Opening Day roster.

“We’re not going to jeopardize or take chances with any young guy, especially a young guy coming off an injury, based on somebody else’s performance or health,” Hahn said.

Carlos Rodon looks to be in good shape and was on the field throwing as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. He is not expected back till midseason.

“Internally, we’re generally looking at him as a midseason acquisition, so to speak, or a real nice trade-deadline acquisition of a quality lefty,” Hahn said.