LAWRENCEVILLE – If one didn’t know better, Brian McCann looked as if he might step up to the plate and compete with Chipper Jones and others in the home-run contest Saturday at McCann’s Rally Foundation celebrity softball game at Coolray Field.
But under the softball jersey were scars from Oct. 16 right-shoulder surgery. McCann was left to smile, shake hands and thank all the participants and fans who came out for the annual event to raise funds for childhood cancer research.
“I should probably be wearing [a sling] out here, but I’m being careful, I’m not going to do anything dumb,” he said, then went to have his picture taken with Rally Foundation kids.
Five days after having his $12 million team option for 2013 picked up by the Braves, and less than three weeks since surgery, McCann was more upbeat than during the final months of his career-worst season, when his shoulder was throbbing and he tried to play through it.
He faces about six months of rehab and could miss the first month of the 2013 season, though the Braves are optimistic that he might be back a little sooner. For now, McCann is doing range-of-motion exercises with Braves physical therapist Lloyd van Pamelen.
“Everything, from what he’s telling me, looks really good,” McCann said. “I’ve never had surgery, so it’s hard for me to compare it to anything. But I’ve always healed pretty quick. I feel good about where I’m at, being two weeks out of surgery I feel really good.”
The six-time former All-Star hit a career-low .230 with a .300 on-base percentage and .399 slugging percentage, far below his career slash line of .286/.358/.486. His 20 homers also were his fewest since hitting 18 in 2007, and his 14 doubles, 67 RBIs and 121 games were career lows.
When McCann had an MRI in early August, the injury was originally diagnosed as a frayed labrum and cyst. He had two cortisone shots during the second half of the season, which provided only temporary relief.
A more extensive postseason MRI showed a labrum tear, and when Dr. Xavier Duralde did the surgery he found the tear a bit larger than expected.
McCann felt all along that the injury might be more severe than some thought.
“I’m pretty sure it’s been there, but it intensified mid-July and towards the end of July,” McCann said. “You know your body. Professional athletes know what their body does and doesn’t do. I’ve played seven years [in the majors] and I know what my body feels like, and it was hard to swing the bat the way I need to swing the bat to be successful.”