MIAMI – Fifteen days isn’t a lot of time to heal a strained oblique muscle, but the Braves’ Brian McCann thinks he could be ready Friday, the first day he’s eligible to come off the disabled list.
The All-Star catcher took batting practice before Monday’s series opener against Florida at Sun Life Stadium, the first time McCann’s done anything more than light hitting since injuring the oblique in his left side on July 26.
“It felt fine; it felt exactly how I thought it would,” said McCann, who took controlled swings and hit several drives to the power alleys, but no tape-measure homers. “I didn’t try to swing as hard as I could. But I was pleased with how the ball was coming off my bat.
“It’s my first time really swinging more than 50 percent, so I didn’t want to let it go. I felt really good swinging the bat as far as hitting the sweet spot and hitting line drives.”
On Tuesday he plans to do catching drills, including blocking balls and throwing to bases. He was injured making an off-balance throw to second base to try to throw out a base-stealer.
“Yesterday to today was such a good jump,” said McCann, who had done light hitting and throwing Sunday in New York. “The throwing motion was the only thing I was worried about, and I’m going to do everything in my power to do that. If I feel like I can play and not hurt myself further, I’m 100 percent going to be [ready].
“Hopefully tomorrow is a big day, man. Because if I can do that, I’ll probably head out Wednesday and play somewhere.”
McCann said if he is cleared to play minor-league rehab games Wednesday and Thursday, it’s possible he could rejoin the Braves on Friday.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez seemed apprehensive about sending McCann out to catch so soon on a rehab assignment. Gonzalez said he wanted McCann to work on blocking balls in the bullpen, but couldn’t do that Monday on the hard, rubberized surface in the Florida stadium bullpen.
The manager said he’d see about getting use of the playing field for about 20 minutes before batting practice Tuesday.
McCann threw again from a distance of about 100 feet in the outfield, and said he didn’t have discomfort he’d felt doing that Sunday.
McCann said he’ll ramp up the intensity Tuesday and get a better idea whether he’s ready to begin a rehab assignment with an eye toward returning for the weekend series against the Chicago Cubs.
“Today was a big jump from yesterday, and hopefully tomorrow will be a big jump from today,” he said. “I just want to be smart with it. I want to listen to my body, not do anything to have a setback. I feel like I could go up there and hit right now, and hold my own and help this team win. So if I can do everything without a chance of hurting myself, I’m going to get back in there.”
At the time of his injury, McCann led or shared the team lead in average (.306), home runs (18) and RBIs (55). He hit .319 with 12 homers and 25 RBIs in his last 38 games before going on the DL. He still was tied for the team RBI lead before Monday.
Veteran backup catcher David Ross hit .162 (6-for-37) with one homer and five RBIs in 12 games since McCann’s injury.