Philadelphia – It’s Brian McCann’s 2009 nightmare revisited: more vision problems that will require the Braves catcher to switch to playing in glasses again beginning Saturday.
“It’s beyond frustrating,” said McCann, who played in glasses for the first time in 2009, then underwent a second round of Lasik eye surgery in a two-year span in October in hopes of alleviating the problem.
Instead, he’s struggled to see out of his right eye in night games, and his .243 overall average includes .180 (9-for-50) with no homers and five RBIs in 15 night games. (He’s hit .375 with two homers in nine day games.)
Until Friday, McCann had not mentioned to anyone other than his personal eye doctor that he was having more problems. Not even to manager Bobby Cox.
“This is going to be the last resort,” said McCann, who kept quiet because he hadn’t wanted attention focused on his problems like it was a year ago, nor did he want anyone to think he was using his vision as an excuse for slumping.
Not until he was asked by a reporter Friday whether he was OK – an obvious question given that he was out of the lineup for a second consecutive game – did McCann explain what’s been going on.
“I haven’t said anything,” he said in a hallway of the visitor’s clubhouse, in a quiet and resigned tone. “I’m going to have to wear the glasses again.”
Cox said he didn’t find out about McCann’s recurring issue until Thursday in Washington, D.C.
“It’s been bothering him at night,” Cox said. “Brian’s been seeing his eye doctor more than a few times during the course of the season; I didn’t know that, either.”
McCann had to be fitted for new glasses because the prescription he had last season was no longer accurate following Lasik surgery on his left eye in October.
The new glasses are to arrive Saturday in Philadelphia — which by remarkable coincidence is the one-year anniversary of the first game McCann played in glasses in 2009, also against the Phillies in Philadelphia.
“We’ll give it a go,” Cox said. “The day games don’t bother him at all, and he thinks with the glasses he won’t have any problem with night games. We’ll see what happens. It’s a little worrisome, but he seems pretty confident this will work.”
Much like a year ago, when it was the left eye causing problems, McCann has spent a month trying single contact lenses, medicated drops and anything else suggested by his personal eye doctor during a series of visits since Opening Day.
He had some problems in the limited number of night games during spring training, but hoped that the brighter, better lighting of major league ballparks would remedy that. It has not.
“It’s not like, ‘Oh, man, it’s not working,’” McCann said. “It’s just that instead of cutting the right eye — they were hoping they wouldn’t need to — but when I play a night game….
“We definitely knew this was a possibility. The whole deal’s frustrating. I wasn’t going to sit here and make a big deal out of it. I’m gonna wear [the glasses] and play. The good thing is, I know I can play in the glasses.”
A year ago, he hit .195 and two homers in 41 at-bats over his first 13 games before going on the disabled list in late April.
He wore glasses after coming off the DL and hit .386 with 19 RBI in his first 30 games back, and .289 with 19 homers and 87 RBI over his final 125 games.
Why didn’t he just have the right eye fixed at the same time as the left eye in October? McCann said it was because his right-eye vision wasn’t significantly below normal and the doctor explained to him that it was prudent to allow the right eye to possibly correct itself during the offseason months.
If possible to avoid having a second Lasik procedure on both eyes in such a relatively short span, then that’s what they would do. The October 2007 procedure was done on both his eyes, and McCann didn’t have any problems in 2008.
The Lasik procedure done during a season would require a stint on the disabled list and isn’t something that’s been recommended for McCann, who said he’s not sure yet whether he’ll have more work done on the right eye after the season or possibly just play in glasses from now on.