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

Youth Lacrosse

Passing the torch: Local helping build Copperheads program

In many ways, Rachel Skinner carried a torch among the first girls high school lacrosse players in Coweta County much the same way the forme ... Read More


High School Football

Cougars win on late interception return by Williams

CARROLLTON – Friday night’s football game between Newnan and Carrollton was an old-fashioned shootout. In the end, Newnan relied ... Read More


High School Softball

Liebe RBI single lifts EC over Heard County

If East Coweta’s softball program hadn’t already been thrilled by the return of third-baseman Lauren Liebe to the lineup this we ... Read More


High School Football

Turnovers factor into Lions’ 34-6 loss at Flint River

WOODBURY — Turnovers again were Trinity Christian’s worst enemy as Flint River’s running game and three interceptions by t ... Read More


John Milledge too much for Hawks

The Heritage Hawks have had a rough start to their 2014-2015 season. After losing a heartbreaker against Flint River last week, they were ho ... Read More

High School Football

Crusaders turn out Lighthouse 62-6

Central Christian had turned out the lights on Light- house Homeschool by the sec- ond quarter of Friday’s 62-6 victory between the st ... Read More