Despite the new look and the hot start, Atlanta Braves fans have had this day circled since the realization of the terrible infield fly rule ended the team’s 2012 postseason run, signaling the official retirement of Chipper Jones.
That’s right folks. All the hoopla of Up-Up-And-A-Hey and the mysterious herculean efforts of Evan Gattis pale in comparison to the fact that Brian McCann has officially returned the Braves lineup tonight as Atlanta begins a three-game series with the Cincinnati Reds.
And yes, McCann’s entry is official according to Twitter:
#Braves lineup: BUpton 8, CJohnson, 5 JUpton 9, Freeman 3, Gattis 7, McCann 2, Uggla 4, Simmons 6, Maholm 1
— David O’Brien (@ajcbraves) May 6, 2013
With McCann back behind the plate, Gattis will start in left field and Justin Upton will move to right. This is the lineup that Fredi Gonzalez eluded to last week that he would use until Jason Heyward returned from his stint on the DL following an appendectomy during the road trip in Colorado. Reports are today Heyward is progressing quicker than expected and could return prior to June 1.
But the excitement is still in the air with the players and the fans to see McCann back tonight. The catcher had surgery in October to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder, and the 29-year-old went 8-for-23 (.348) with four home runs and nine RBIs in rehab starts with Class A in Rome and Triple-A in Gwinnett.
Gonzalez hopes having the All-Star Catcher and team leader back will spark the team. After going 17-9 in April, the Braves are just 1-3 in May and have lost 10 of their last 15 games.
Paul Maholm (3-3, 3.08 ERA) gets the start tonight for Atlanta while Bronson Arroyo (2-3, 3.95 ERA) gets the start for the Reds.
The next win for Cincinnati will be the 1,600 for manager Dusty Baker. That will move him to 18th place overall and past the legendary Tommy Lasorda and second among active managers behind Jim Leyland.