His right shoulder is sore and his batting average is 60 points below his career average, but Braves catcher Brian McCann wants to play.
He vented some frustrations Saturday when he was out of the lineup for the second consecutive night, and also said a diagnosis of his injury – shoulder subluxation – that was provided to reporters last week by manager Fredi Gonzalez wasn’t accurate.
“I’ve got a cyst that’s sitting on a joint, and I’ve got a frayed labrum,” McCann said. “So I mean, yeah, I’ve got things going on in there. But it’s something that I’m managing, I’m going to play through, and at the end of the year see what I’m going to do [to fix it, if necessary].”
McCann was batting a career-low .229 with 18 homers and 57 RBIs in 94 games before Saturday, and half of his home runs and 21 RBIs came in 18 games from July 5 through July 31. Since then he was 4-for-36 (.111) with one RBI in 12 games, and including 0-for-12 in his past four.
When McCann wasn’t in the lineup Saturday, Gonzalez was asked about it by reporters.
“Just giving him two days off. He’s fine,” Gonzalez said, noting that backup catcher David Ross was 4-for-9 with three homers against Aaron Harang, the Dodgers starting pitcher Saturday. McCann was 12-for-23 with two homers against the right-hander.
It was the second time in less than two weeks that McCann was out of the lineup in consecutive games. The other was Aug. 8 at Philadelphia and Aug. 10 at New York, after McCann got a cortisone shot in the shoulder following the Aug. 7 game against the Phillies.
Before the Aug. 10 game, Gonzalez said pain in McCann’s shoulder, which has bothered him for nearly two months and worsened in recent weeks, was caused by a subluxation, or temporary and partial dislocation. It occurs sometimes when McCann swings the bat, but not when he throws.
“I don’t know who told you that,” McCann said Saturday. “I don’t have a subluxation. That’s false. I have a cyst that’s sitting on the joint and I’ve got a frayed labrum, a little bit of a fray in my labrum. But that [treatment including possible surgery] is something that we’ll have to decide when the season’s over….
“I got an MRI a while back. That’s what the tests showed. That’s what’s been causing the pain, there’s a cyst that’s sitting on the joint.”
The frayed labrum and cyst are directly related to the subluxation, a Braves official said. The team hopes that McCann, a six-time former All-Star can avoid surgery.
“Hopefully by giving him some rest and monitoring it, we can manage it,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said.
Because it took a few days for the Aug. 7 cortisone shot to take effect last week, McCann agreed it was better not to play Aug. 10. But he didn’t agree with the decision not to start him Saturday or even use him as a pinch-hitter in Friday’s 11-inning game.
“I want to play,” he said. “I can pinch-hit, I can play. I can do all the things that I normally need to do to play.”
Before Saturday, McCann’s .168 average (17-for-101) with runners in scoring position was the fourth-worst in the National League, after he batted .291 in those situations over the previous three seasons. His .104 average in close-and-late situations was the second-lowest in the majors, and he had a majors-worst .157 overall average (16-for-102) after the sixth inning.