The Braves weren’t counting on having Brian McCann back until Monday, but the catcher’s side was feeling good and he wanted to play Sunday. So a text message to manager Fredi Gonzalez and a quick run-through with Braves trainer Jeff Porter when he got to Turner Field was all it took to get him back in the lineup.
“If he’s OK with it, I’m OK with it,” Gonzalez said. “Who wouldn’t want a six-time All-Star, five-time Silver Slugger in the lineup? Ah no, take three more days.”
Chipper Jones was back in the lineup on Sunday too despite some concern after a pinch hit at-bat Saturday night over lingering pain in his surgically-repaired left knee.
Saturday night was the third game the Braves have played this season without both Brian McCann and Chipper Jones in the lineup, and they lost 4-2 to the Pirates. The Braves are 1-2 overall in those games.
McCann strained a ribcage muscle on his right side making a throw on Friday night against the Pirates. The Braves originally thought he would need two days off. But Gonzalez said McCann actually felt good enough Saturday night to start lobbying to play then.
He kept telling Gonzalez he could catch if he wanted to use Matt Diaz, the emergency catcher, to pinch hit late in the game.
“Mac wants to play ball,” Gonzalez said. “He likes to play. I’m glad it was nothing major. Getting him out of the game (Friday) after the fifth – maybe that saved him a little bit.”
McCann is fortunate the strain was to his intercostal muscle and not a little lower to his oblique. He spent three weeks on the disabled list with an oblique strain on his left side last August and was out of sorts for the remainder of the year.