Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 5/23/12

The Atlanta Braves have a 2013 option on catcher Brian McCann, which they will pick up. But things get tricky after that.

McCann was scratched from the lineup with flu-like symptoms Wednesday against the Reds, the second consecutive day that's happened. He hasn't had his usual year at the plate, although he is batting .324 (11 for 34) in his last nine games since May 11.

McCann has been working to find his stroke since the latter part of last season, when a strained left oblique kept him from swinging naturally. Other than his offense, he is prized by the Braves for the way he handles the pitching staff, which he has always said is his number one focus. His plate blocking on balls in the dirt and his throws to second attempting to put base-stealers out leave something to be desired. Both have improved somewhat over the last two seasons, thanks to the tutelage of backup catcher David Ross, who will be a free agent at the end of this season.

Ross, who says it's important to him not to be the weak link in the lineup when he starts, was 0 for 4 in Wednesday's 2-1 loss.

There are a couple of catchers coming up through the organization, notably 20-year-old Christian Bethancourt, who's currently batting .364. But he's at only Class AA Mississippi.

It's highly likely that Ross, 35, would sign a one-year deal for next season. Every time his name is mentioned, it's also mentioned that he could be the starting catcher on a lot of other clubs. But he likes being McCann's backup. He knows his offense wouldn't be as good if he played every day, and besides, he does a lot of things behind the scenes. He is, in fact, one of the clubhouse leaders, the one who has the inspirational T-shirts made and otherwise organizes the team.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez doesn't believe in personal catchers, per se, but pairing Ross with right-hander Tim Hudson, his old college teammate, has worked out well. And he is more aggressive with young pitchers than McCann is. As an example, if a pitcher's shoulder is flying open, McCann might wait a time or three and then go out to the mound to point it out. Ross will jump up from his crouch immediately and bang on his shoulder. And as long as the Braves are going to be relying on young pitchers, that's a good thing.

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