Brian McCann on New York: “I absolutely love it here”

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Braves first base coach Terry Pendleton told the New York Post earlier this week that he feels like Brian McCann — who’s struggled in his first year with the Yankees — will “never be comfortable” in New York because “New York is not Brian.”

McCann was asked about those comments before the Yankees’ game Tuesday evening against the Indians. ESPNNewYork.com has his response:

“I read the article. I disagree,” McCann said. “I absolutely love it here. I’ve got off to a slow start, but I absolutely love it here. It’s his opinion. That’s all I can say, it’s his opinion on it. I really haven’t noticed a big difference [between playing in New York and Atlanta]. It’s still baseball. It’s still put a uniform on, go out and put your best foot forward. That’s what I’m doing. It just hasn’t gone quite like I wish it would, but at the same time, we’ve got a whole half of baseball left. We’re in a pennant race and those are the things that I’m focused on.”

Yankees manager Joe Girardi also weighed in: “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. Sometimes it takes people a little time to adjust [to New York]. … I think he’ll be fine. I don’t think it will be an issue. I think he loves it here. I think he enjoys playing here. And I think Brian expects a lot from himself.”

McCann entered play Tuesday with a weak .230/.289/.379 slash line in 305 plate appearances. The 30-year-old catcher signed a five-year, $85 million free agent contract with the Yankees over the winter.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.