The Atlanta Braves optioned shortstop Tyler Pastornicky to Triple-A Gwinnett in order to make room for six-time All-Star catcher, Brian McCann.
McCann played through a shoulder injury in 2012, which required surgery in the offseason and missing the first month of the 2013 season to get fully healthy. He spent the past week rehabbing at the Minor League level in preparation for the 2013 MLB season. In single-A Rome and triple-A Gwinnett, McCann was 8-for-23 (.423 average) with four home runs, nine RBIs and a 1.336 OPS.
The shoulder seems to be healthy based on those power numbers, but fans should still expect an adjustment period for the catcher. It took first baseman Freddie Freeman a few weeks to re-adjust to the speed of MLB pitching, and I’d expect the same from McCann.
When McCann does get up to speed, missing the first month should pay dividends for both him and the Braves. Historically, McCann’s worst two months of the season have come in August and September. The toils of catching seemingly catches up to him every year toward the end of the season. The injury could be a blessing in disguise in 2013 and lead to a fresher hitter during the stretch run.
The Braves will now have one of the most dynamic offensive catching duos in the game with McCann and Evan Gattis. The emergence of Gattis (.261, seven home runs, 18 RBIs) has made fans forget about McCann and look to the future.
However, there is a reason McCann is a six-time All-Star. Other than last year’s injury-plagued season, he has been one of the best offensive catchers in the game. Having depth at the catcher position will be a good problem for manager Fredi Gonzalez to have moving forward.
Welcome back, Mr. McCann.