Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann is showing unexpected optimism just three months after major shoulder surgery. Mark Bowman reports that longest-tenured Braves position player is hoping to be ready for Opening Day.
Dr. Xavier Duralde operated on McCann's shoulder Oct. 16 to repair a labrum tear that was worse than originally thought. He also inserted anchors into the posterior of McCann's shoulder. If McCann can manage to play on Opening Day, he'll be about two weeks ahead of schedule.
"Being three months out of surgery, I feel like I'm ahead of schedule," McCann said. "I feel better each day, and I'm very encouraged by the signs that I have received recently. Now that I've had the surgery, I can tell a huge difference with my range of motion and flexibility. This is as free as my shoulder has been for a few years."
McCann strained an oblique on July 26, 2011, and suffered through the rest of that season before being hobbled almost all of last season and knew his right shoulder would be bothersome almost immediately in 2012. That injury actually dates back to 2009, when he received a cortisone shot when he experienced discomfort while lifting weights.
Last year saw that pain flare up in an even worse way though, and there was no hiding it.
"I played through [the pain] last year," McCann said. "I just wasn't very good. I went out there and on a nightly basis, I played through discomfort. I wasn't able to play at the level that I'm used to playing. You try everything in your power to be successful and it just didn't work out for me."
The pain was particularly bothersome when McCann swung at anything off-speed or off the plate.
"If I got fooled on a pitch, it would really pinch the back of my shoulder," McCann said. "It got to the point where I was changing the way I was swinging. The most frustrating part for me was not finding a way to be successful. It was just something I wasn't used to. It was disappointing, for sure."
The 28-year-old is entering the final year of his contract, and though he would like to put last season's disappointment behind him, he also isn't concerned with 2014 and beyond.
"I really don't want to think about my future in that sense," McCann said. "I love it here. It's just where I grew up. I grew up 25 miles north of Turner Field. This is all I've ever known. I love it here.
"I worry about playing baseball and I worry about trying to be the best at what I do. If I can go out there and play well, then everything else will take care of itself. My No. 1 goal is to get back to the way I played the first six years of my career and even better than that."
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