The Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals are going to face off in the first of two historic MLB Wild Card playoff games on Friday. The resilient Atlanta team will have a bit of a different look in from their standard lineup, however.
Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez has opted to start catcher David Ross over six-time All Star Brian McCann.
I’ll give you all a moment to collect your jaws from the floor.
McCann has been bothered by a shoulder injury for most of the 2012 season, and his career-worst statistics show it. His 20 homers were his fewest in a full season since only hitting 18 in 2007, and his 14 doubles, 67 RBIs, 121 games played and 487 at-bats all were career-lows.
Even so, many are surprised to see Gonzalez give the starting nod to Ross in the team’s first playoff game since being ousted by the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 divisional round.
“It’s one of those things where you feel [Ross] gives you a good chance to win a ballgame,” said Gonzalez, “I talked to him [Wednesday]. It was a good conversation. He understood. It’s tough for both of us, but he understood.
Ross does posses a better arm than McCann, and has been deadly accurate throwing out runners at second base. The Cardinals are a team that likes to play station to station ball, and steal bases in the process. Gonzalez did add that McCann would play if the Braves win the single game playoff, and advance to a best-of-five division series against the Washington Nationals.
“I haven’t played the way I wanted to play, and Rossy’s been playing great,” McCann said. “That’s just the decision that he made…. I’ve been battling a shoulder injury for a while. Production hasn’t been where I need it to be to help the team win.”
McCann has a frayed labrum and cyst in his right shoulder. He said there’s a “good chance” he will have shoulder surgery in the off-season, but would wait for the inflammation to subside after the postseason, and then return for testing after some rest to see the extent of the damage.