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McCann expecting to be 'completely healthy' for 2013

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Associated Press
10/17/2012 4:06:33 PM
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ATLANTA -- Brian McCann's agent said Wednesday the Braves catcher expects to be "completely healthy" for the 2013 season following surgery on his right shoulder.

McCann's rehabilitation could last six months, so his status for the opening month of next season is uncertain. The Braves, meanwhile, must decide this month on their $12 million option on McCann for 2013.

Tuesday's surgery by Dr. Xavier Duralde repaired McCann's torn labrum. The Braves say the tear was larger than expected.

McCann's agent, B.B. Abbott, told The Associated Press the six-time All-Star is expecting a full recovery.

"Brian is extremely encouraged with the information he received from Dr. Duralde," Abbott said. "His prognosis is for a full and complete recovery and he is excited to be completely healthy for the 2013 season."

McCann, 28, is expected to return to light baseball activities in about four months. The full clearance could come two months later in April, the season's opening month.

Braves general manager Frank Wren was attending organizational meetings in Orlando on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment on McCann.

The team must decide within three days of the end of the World Series on contract options for McCann and starting pitcher Tim Hudson, for $9 million.

Abbott said he has been given "no indication about the Braves' intentions" on McCann.

The shoulder problem did not affect McCann's throwing but it hampered his hitting. He set a career low with his .230 batting average. He hit 20 homers with 67 RBIs in 121 games. He also was slowed by tendinitis in his right knee.

McCann was notably left out of the starting lineup for the Braves' wild-card loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said McCann would have started if the team advanced to the division series.

McCann, a career .279 hitter, began a string of six straight All-Star appearances in 2006, his first full season. He has hit 20 or more homers six times and has three seasons with more than 90 RBIs.

Wren knows he must replace third baseman Chipper Jones, who is retiring. Centerfielder and leadoff hitter Michael Bourn could be difficult to re-sign as a free agent.

When discussing his off-season outlook the day after the wild-card loss, Wren indicated his plans next season included McCann.

"To be honest with you, I feel like this is a more focused off-season," Wren said. "I'm looking forward to it because I think there's a narrower focus of what we need. We've got a lot of good young players in place and we've got to determine what we do in centre field ... and we've got to determine how we replace Chipper. Beyond that, our club is pretty solid."

There is a $500,000 buyout if the Braves don't pick up the option on McCann's contract.

Backup catcher David Ross, who will be a free agent, has been a productive fill-in for McCann. Ross will be 36 next season. "He's been real valuable in that backup role and we'll continue to look to have him back," Wren said.

J.C. Boscan, who has appeared in only 11 games in three seasons, will be 33.

The team's top catching prospect is Christian Bethancourt, whose 2012 season at Double-A Mississippi ended when he broke his left hand in August.

Bethancourt, 21, hit only .243 at Mississippi. He has never hit more than five homers in a minor-league season, so he doesn't project as a replacement for McCann's power in the middle of Atlanta's lineup.

Wren may have to look for help at catcher even if McCann returns and Ross is re-signed. A veteran may be signed for depth in case McCann is not ready for the start of the season.

Brian McCann (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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