NEW YORK – Soon after the Braves determined that catcher Brian McCann needed another day out of the lineup for Friday’s series opener against the Mets in order for the cortisone shot in his sore right shoulder to take effect, third baseman Chipper Jones was scratched because of a sore back and neck.
Jones also missed several other games in past years for back tightness or spasms, and could only remember it happening after he slept on beds at the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York, the Braves’ team hotel in Manhattan for many years.
“I probably need to see about staying somewhere else,” he said, smiling. “Now I can’t order room service either.”
The latter reference was to a series of comments that Jones made on his Twitter account during the team’s day off Thursday in New York, when he complained about the air conditioning, the bed and a malfunctioning TV in his room.
The situation with McCann wasn’t as light-hearted. He’s been bothered for about two months by soreness in his right shoulder, which manager Fredi Gonzalez said was diagnosed as a subluxation. That’s when the shoulder slips partially out of the joint.
McCann feels it sometimes when he extends out front to reach a pitch. It doesn’t bother him when he throws.
“I thought I might be able to play today, but I got here and the medicine from the cortisone shot is still sitting in there,” said McCann, who expects to play Saturday. “[The injury] has been there for a while. It’s intensified over the past two or three weeks.”
Backup catcher David Ross started Friday for the eighth time in the past 22 games. McCann snapped out of slump five weeks ago and led the Braves with a career-best nine homers in July, but has not started more than three consecutive games since July 18.
Despite the increased discomfort in recent weeks, he hit .288 with nine homers, 22 RBIs and a 1.026 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in his past 24 games before Friday.
Gonzalez said he wasn’t worried about McCann’s shoulder and that he believed he’d be fine after the medicine did its work. McCann, however, didn’t seem entirely unconcerned about the situation when asked if he was worried.
Asked if the injury made him tentative on some swings, McCann said, “It did. I’m hoping the shot will clear that up.”
McCann got the cortisone injection after Tuesday’s game at Philadelphia. He was out of the lineup Wednesday, and the Braves hoped that two days of rest (including the team’s day off Thursday) would be enough for the medication to alleviate the soreness. But when Braves trainers tested his shoulder on Friday, they decided he needed more rest.
“I thought I’d play today, but I got here today and it was weak when I was doing all this stuff they want me to do,” McCann said. “So they wanted me to give it one more day.”
McCann was available to pinch-hit Friday, while Jones was also available but expected to spend most of the night getting treatment. Juan Francisco was in the lineup Friday against Mets rookie right-hander Matt Harvey.
“It’s killing me,” Jones said. “Neck, back, lower back. It doesn’t feel good enough to go out there tonight. I told Fredi, since we’ve got two lefties [Johan Santana and Jonathan Niese starting for the Mets] in the next couple of days, let me try and get some treatment tonight and hopefully I’ll be ready the next couple of days. Let Francisco get in there tonight and we’ll see how it feels the rest of the weekend.”
Jones started seven of the past eight games and 15 of 18 before Friday, the most that the 40-year-old has played during any stretch this season. In his past 32 games, he had a robust .366 average with 13 doubles, five homers, 22 RBIs and a 1.066 OPS.
“If I was missing a couple of days a month with back problems all over the league, including Atlanta, I would say it’s just [from] getting old,” he said. “ But I very seldom have back problems. Just seems like whenever I’m here – and sometimes I don’t have a problem [here] at all. Maybe it was just the off day, laying around all day.”
Among the Tweets that he fired off on his Twitter page (RealCJ10) on Thursday were these:
RealCJ10: If anyone was thinkin about stayin at the Grand Hyatt in NY,dont! My AC is set on 65 and its north of 80 in here. Like a freaken sauna!”
RealCJ10: The movie channels dont work and the beds make my back spasm up! Am i complaining too much? Im sorry, gotta vent to someone. Love yall!!!
@RealCJ10: Ahh the power of social media. TV guy just showed up at my door. Didnt even have to call the front desk. See what happens when u vent a tad?
However, Jones said Friday that he didn’t open the door to let the maintenance worker in.
“After the tweet went out, I wasn’t letting anybody in my room,” he said, smiling.