Braves bench C Brian McCann for wild-card game

BY PAUL NEWBERRY AP SPORTS WRITER ATLANTA (AP) – Plagued by injuries, Brian McCann endured the worst season of his career. He'll watch the Braves' wild-card playoff game from the bench. Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez announced that David Ross - not McCann - will start Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals. But Gonzalez stressed that it's not a permanent move if the Braves advance past the one-game playoff.
"I think going forward Mac will catch, obviously, in a longer series, a five-game series or even a seven-game series if we get that far," Gonzalez said Thursday before a workout at Turner Field. "We'll play the matchups." Gonzalez said he made the move primarily for defense, believing Ross has a better chance of keeping the Cardinals from attempting to steal. Also, Ross was behind the plate for two of the most dominant performances by starting pitcher Kris Medlen: a 12-strikeout effort against Colorado on Sept. 3 and a career-high 13 Ks against Washington on Sept. 14. "You feel like (Ross) gives you a good chance to win the ballgame," Gonzalez said. "Defensively, we know how well he can throw people out. The Cardinals have a tendency to put people in motion a lot. And with the combination of Rossy and Medlen, maybe it gives you an opportunity to shut that down a little bit." Slowed by a knee injury and an ailing right shoulder, McCann batted just .230 with 20 homers and 67 RBIs this season. Ross hit .256 with nine homers and 23 RBIs. Gonzalez said it was difficult to tell McCann that he wouldn't be starting the wild-card game. "I've been thinking about this for three or four days," the manager said. "He's a very important piece to our team and he's a warrior." Gonzalez said Ross, a right-handed hitter, could start again if the Braves advance to face Washington and left-hander Gio Gonzalez, since McCann bats lefty. But the manager stressed that McCann will get the bulk of the playing time if Atlanta makes an extended postseason run. "He's beat up. He's been banged up for a while," Fredi Gonzalez said. "Again, a one-game series, you go with Rossy. In a longer series, (McCann is) going to play. He's not that banged up." McCann said he understood the decision. "I wish I was playing. But I'm not. That's it," he said. "Rossy's been playing unbelievable. I'm his biggest fan. He's one of my best friends in the world and he's been playing great. "I'll hopefully get in there somehow, maybe pinch-hit late. We'll see." Ross called it the biggest game of his career, but stressed that McCann is still the team's primary catcher. "He's done some things that are second to none in this game," Ross said. "I'm going to go out there and give it my best, but I don't want to take anything away from Brian McCann." McCann said there's a good chance he's going to need shoulder surgery in the offseason. He's already had two cortisone shots, but doesn't plan on taking another one. "I've been battling a shoulder injury for a while," he said. "My production hasn't been where it needed to be to help the team win." --- Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 © 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


More Sports

High School Softball

Five standouts earn All-State honors from GACA

‘Tis the season for presents and gifts. But earning All-State softball honors from the Georgia Athletic Coaches Association wasn&rsquo ... Read More


High School Wrestling

Vikings continue busy week at Norseman Duals

Just two days after winning this year's Coweta County Championship, the Northgate Vikings rolled the wrestling mats back out Friday at home ... Read More


Heritage lineups sweep Harvester

Heritage School lineups dominated opposing lineups on Thursday at Harvester Christian while earning a sweep in non-region play while getting ... Read More


Tied up in knots

County championships provide excitement

Since retiring as a varsity wrestling coach following a career that included over 300 victories, Adrian Anderson had been happy to stay in t ... Read More


Coweta Wrestling Championships

Vikings create own ‘breaks’ to claim title

Northgate is sitting on top of the Coweta County wrestling world again. The Vikings captured the annual county championships in their own gy ... Read More

Northgate leads All-Region cheerleading squad

Northgate’s competitive cheerleading squad led this year’s All-Region 4-AAAAA team with eight selections. Earning honors for the ... Read More