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11/20/08 11:45 AM ET

McCann seeing dividends from diet

Lifestyle changes have helped catcher lose over 20 pounds

ATLANTA -- After enjoying yet another successful season, Brian McCann entered this offseason feeling more concerned than content. Consequently, the Braves' All-Star catcher has spent the past two months making sacrifices and looking forward to the improved results he hopes to realize during the 2009 season.

While eating better and running three times a week, McCann has already lost more than 20 pounds, dropping from 248 to 226 -- approximately one pound heavier than he was when he made his Major League debut in 2005. More importantly, he's finally been able to stick to the diet that he'd contemplated using each of the past few offseasons.

"The first 2 1/2 or three weeks were extremely hard," McCann said. "Right now, when you start seeing results, it doesn't bother you that you aren't eating the foods that you've eaten your entire life."

Well, actually, McCann does reserve one day a week to enjoy a large pizza while watching NFL games with his older sibling Brad, a former Minor Leaguer who is attempting to help his younger brother further strengthen his position as one of the game's best catchers.

"That's what we look forward to all week," McCann said.

Burdened by sore knees and bothered by the fact that he was nearly 25 pounds heavier than when he burst on the Major League scene, McCann told his brother that he was determined to lose weight this offseason.

Brad, who played in the Minors with the Marlins and Royals, accepted the challenge to serve as a constant motivator. Thus he's also spent the past two months sticking to a diet that primarily consists of protein shakes, tuna sandwiches and grilled chicken.

"My brother has helped me out more than anybody," said the Braves catcher, who is 14 months younger than his brother. "He's kind of gone through the diet, and he didn't have to. He's always looked good. But he wanted to do it because he wanted to help me.

"My brother and I have been as close as anybody can possibly be. He's my big brother and my role model. Whatever he's done, I've wanted to do."

Along with drastically changing his diet, McCann has also been running three nights a week. When he returns home, he finds himself tired and often falls asleep much earlier than he did in the past.

Hot Stove

"I go to bed at 11:30 p.m., instead of 4:30 a.m.," McCann said. "I used to stay up watching TV until real late because I had a hard time sleeping. Now I'm waking up at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m., instead of noon. I think this is going to help me across the board. I know I'm going to be stronger, and I think I'll be quicker and faster."

Having already earned three All-Star selections and captured two Silver Slugger Awards in his first three Major League seasons, McCann could have certainly felt a sense of complacency. But the 24-year-old knew that he was going to have to make changes if he wanted to continue this success over an extended period.

McCann admits part of his motivation came via chatter about him moving to first base. He fully intends to remain a catcher, and in order to stop this talk, he felt he needed to improve his flexibility and mobility.

Throughout his Minor League career, he remembers having plenty of success against opposing basestealers. But this past season, he threw out just 22.5 percent of them, the lowest mark among all qualifying National League catchers.

During the 2007 season, McCann retired just 21.3 percent of the 89 opponents who attempted to steal against him. These disappointing outputs during consecutive seasons also led him to understand that he had to cut carbs to at least give himself a chance to be considered for a Gold Glove Award.

"I would rather have a Gold Glove than a Silver Slugger Award, because I've always been known as a hitter," McCann said. "I want to just be a complete player. I thought the best way to do that was to get my weight down."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.