Soon, perhaps as early as Monday, catcher Brian McCann will complete his return from October shoulder surgery and re-join the Braves.
McCann said he’ll come back with a different perspective after his rehabilitation program included extended spring training and minor-league games.
“It brought back a lot of memories from going through the system,” McCann said Tuesday at Turner Field, where he caught right-hander Brandon Beachy’s live batting practice session. “I saw a lot of the coaches that coached me coming up through the system. It hit me how hard it is to get where we are at. I’m taking a positive out of all of this.”
McCann’s journey back to the Braves’ lineup isn’t quite over. He’s scheduled to catch for Class-A Rome on Wednesday before playing with Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday though Sunday.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said the team would evaluate McCann on Sunday, but that he’s open to McCann joining the Braves in Cincinnati on Monday for the start of a 10-game trip.
As far as McCann is concerned, he will be ready to go.
“The way I feel, six months out, I feel really happy about it,” McCann said. “The way I am throwing is basically the same before I got hurt. The ball is coming out great. Now it’s just going to be a matter of catching innings and get up to the speed of the game.”
McCann plans to catch back-to-back games at some point this week as he works on getting back in game shape, which he said that’s the only issue at this point.
Once McCann returns to form, he will add more pop to a Braves lineup that already has plenty. McCann is a five-time winner of the National League Silver Slugger award for his position with a career OPS of .826.
But Gonzalez warned that it will take McCann some time to return to form. He said McCann initially won’t take on his usual heavy workload behind the plate.
McCann said he’s never felt sorry for himself during his rehabilitation, instead choosing to take some positives from his circumstances. Still, Gonzalez said after talking to McCann on Monday he noticed a change in his disposition since the spring.
“When you get a superstar player and he’s injured, those first five or six weeks in February are not very good,” Gonzalez said. “Now he sees light at end of tunnel and he knows it’s close to coming back, and so his spirits were really, really good.”
McCann was sidelined by an oblique injury in 2011. He experienced shoulder pain on some swings for much of last season before eventually undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in the back of his throwing shoulder and to secure ligaments to stabilize the joint.
But McCann said he doesn’t view his circumstances as a chance to finally be healthy after a run of bad luck with injuries.
“I came back (in 2011), and I just wasn’t very good; it wasn’t because of injury,” he said. “I look at it as one year. I don’t look at it as I’ve had all these injuries. I’ve been able to play a lot of games over eight years. I had a shoulder (injury), and I’ve got to bounce back from it.”