Originally posted on Fox Sports South  |  Last updated 2/5/13
ATLANTA The chrome blue rig idled in the player's parking lot at Turner Field Monday morning, slowly being loaded down with essentials both personal and professional to be transported to spring training. Seven short days remain; baseball looms. Along with the rest of the Braves' supplies packed and shipped down to ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, catcher's pads, mitts and masks were present. At this point, according to manager Fredi Gonzalez, those items are set to be worn by a six-time All-Star. "I wouldn't put it past Mac (Brian McCann) to be there for Opening Day, you know?" Gonzalez said during an impromptu media session in his office. "He's talked about doing it and he feels good and he could do it." McCann underwent surgery on Oct. 16 to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder an injury that held him to the lowest batting average (.230) and OPS (.698) in his eight-year career but has spoken openly about being the team's Opening Day catcher for the eight-consecutive season, the team's longest active streak. McCann also had anchors inserted the shoulder for stabilization. He and Gonzalez have both discussed being ahead of schedule during the rehabilitation process, but there are still obstacles between now and getting back onto a major league field. "The last thing that the doctors want, before they clear him, is he's gotta be able to dive or slide or make sure that shoulder holds up," Gonzalez said. "So maybe that'll give him an extra four or five days, but hearing him talk, I know he's a competitor and he wants to get back in there. "He's really, really close." During his ahead-of-schedule recovery, McCann is expected to participate in all baseball activities during spring training from the get-go, with exception of playing in competitive games. The team has not broached the subject of when he'll be 100 percent and ready to play for the club. McCann and backup shortstop Paul Janish look to be in similar boats heading into spring training Janish had surgery done on his left, non-throwing shoulder this offseason in that the team could schedule at-bats for both players in simulated games, which are designed to minimize the risk of re-injury. "Back there you can say, 'Hey, just get four at-bats, get your pitch and don't run or don't slide,'" Gonzalez said. "Where if you put him in a game you can't control that competitiveness if he's gonna slide or do something to his shoulder." As it stands, Gonzalez fielded questions with slight hints of amusement Monday, refusing to rule out any possibilities of his trusty backstop to not only return, but return to form. He did point out the opportunities the spring held for other catchers like Gerald Laird, Christian Bethancourt, Matt Pagnozzi and even Evan Gattis, but, really, if McCann can return to simply his career averages (20 home runs, .826 OPS, solid strikeout-to-walk rate), an already scary lineup could become, as Laird put it last week, that much better. Every team and player in baseball houses some form of optimism in February Brian McCann and the Braves are not excluded there. There's no rush with a veteran like Laird holding down the fort, but as Opening Day approaches, the clock is ticking on if the longtime catcher can make his self-imposed deadline. And if not, Fredi? "He'll be there shortly thereafter."
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Cardinals talking to Blue Jays about former MVP Josh Donaldson

Report: Red Sox among teams expected to meet with J.D. Martinez at Winter Meetings

McCown may be considering retirement after broken hand

Fantasy Football Week 14 in review

Miami player thinks Dolphins found ‘blueprint’ to stop Pats

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

O's shopping Machado, who wants to move to SS?

Report: Rodgers pushing to play; collarbone not fully healed

NFL determined Bennett dove for ball, not Jags player’s knees

Kenny Britt reportedly finalizing deal with Patriots

Jones still believes he can delay Goodell contract extension

Trump upset over how Brady has 'distanced himself'?

NFL MVP Watch: Antonio Brown enters suddenly wide-open race

The 'To the Victor, go the spoils' quiz

25 players to watch in the pre-Christmas bowls

The naughty and nice athletes list for 2017

20 NFL free agent signings who have paid off most this season

Six NBA coaches who could be on the hot seat

The best individual performance from every bowl all time

The 'Josh Gordon is back and the NFL will have to deal with it!' quiz

Free agent profile: Carlos Santana

Knicks GM: We have no interest in tanking

Top 10 Player of the Year candidates

Sports & Politics Intersect: When Olympic gold corrupts

Braves News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

NFL MVP Watch: Antonio Brown enters suddenly wide-open race

The 'To the Victor, go the spoils' quiz

25 players to watch in the pre-Christmas bowls

The 'Josh Gordon is back and the NFL will have to deal with it!' quiz

The best individual performance from every bowl all time

NFL Week 14 injury report

Sports & Politics Intersect: When Olympic gold corrupts

The best games of 2017

The naughty and nice athletes list for 2017

The 'And the winner is...' quiz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker