For the first time in his major league career, Brian McCann is not likely to hear his name called when All-Star selections are announced on Sunday at 1 p.m. on TBS.
The first player in Braves franchise history to make the All-Star game in his first six full seasons is underperforming this season, hitting .230 entering Saturday’s game. Meanwhile Carlos Ruiz of the Phillies is having a career year, Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina is coming into his own offensively and San Francisco Giant Buster Posey is right back where he left off before his ankle injury.
Among the Braves expected to be selected are second baseman Dan Uggla, who was leading in the latest vote tally by 770,395 over Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips and closer Craig Kimbrel, who is leading the National League with 22 saves. All three Braves starting outfielders should be in the mix for spots as reserves: Michael Bourn, Martin Prado and Jason Heyward. Chipper Jones could also be a sentimental pick by manager Tony La Russa playing his final season before retiring.
The All-Star game isn’t the primary concern for McCann, though, who is constantly working to make adjustments and get himself right at the plate. He’s been victimized by the defensive shift much of the year, and he lost nearly a week at the plate battling a flu virus. His production has been there – with nine home runs and 35 RBIs – but his consistency not.
“At some point you’ve got to get out of your own dome,” Jones said. “Me personally, I think he’s a little tired. Catching is tough. And that’s why catchers are rewarded so handsomely. It’s the toughest job on the field. You’re talking about 100-plus degree heat and having to shed all that stuff and walk up to the plate and be on cue. It’s not easy to do.”
McCann will get a day off for Sunday’s day game against the Nationals, but manager Fredi Gonzalez doesn’t like to sit him long. He thinks it’s just a matter of getting some balls to fall.
“I see the bat going through the strike zone,” Gonzalez said. “He’s hit some balls hard at times. The shift has probably killed him more than anybody I’ve ever seen in 2012…
“Your eyes tell you something but then the numbers tell you something different. And my eyes are telling me his swing is OK. But at the end of the day the numbers are the ones that don’t lie, I guess.”
Just when McCann started to heat up during interleague play, with three straight multi-hit games including two home runs against the Yankees and Orioles, he cooled off again. He hit .156 (7-for-45) over his next 11 games entering Saturday.