ATLANTA -- When Brian McCann barely missed two homers and lined out to Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira on Monday night, he seemed more optimistic than he had in nearly 10 months. Somewhere in the midst of the hitless performance he started feeling comfortable with the mechanics of his swing again.
While recording two homers, and multi-hit performances in each of the three games that followed, McCann had even more reason to believe he had finally erased the bad habits that developed after he returned to the Braves lineup just three weeks after straining his left oblique muscle in late July.
"I got myself in some bad mechanical problems and I did not know," McCann said. "I got them corrected and I've been feeling good since."
During the offseason, McCann was not willing to say the oblique injury played a part in the fact that he hit just .180 with a .346 slugging percentage in the 37 games he played in 2011 after returning from the disabled list. But after hitting .247 with a .418 slugging percentage through this season's first two months, the six-time All-Star started to understand the injury had a residual effect.
Instead of displaying the swing that had enabled him to hit .290 with a .491 slugging percentage in the 823 career games he had totaled before the injury, he was protecting his left side and not getting the extension that he needed to generate power.
With five extra-base hits in his previous 14 at-bats entering Saturday, McCann was once again generating the power he is expected to provide in the middle of the Braves lineup. He totaled 12 extra-base hits in the 171 at-bats that preceded this stretch.
"When you're taking batting practice and you're not hitting home runs, that is kind of the tell-tale sign," McCann said. "I just wasn't backing balls up. Every hit I got was a single."
Freeman aims to reach 'play through pain' point
ATLANTA -- It appeared Freddie Freeman might be in the midst of a special season when he was named the National League's Player of the Week twice within the first five weeks. But the past six weeks have been a nightmare for the Braves first baseman.
"You need hand-eye coordination to play this game and I've lost both of them in the past month and a half," Freeman said.
Once Freeman finally found a solution to cure the vision problems that bothered him through most of May, his left hand was struck by a Jose Reyes throw as he slid toward second base during a June 6 game in Miami. He returned to action two days later and started four of the next five games before missing Wednesday's series finale against the Yankees.
The hope was that Freeman simply needed to rest a couple days. But with swelling remaining around the knuckle of his left index finger on Saturday, the Braves first baseman was still not ready to return to the lineup. He has trouble gripping a baseball bat and feels pain when receiving throws at first base.
"I just think it's best for me to get this healed and to get this swelling out of my joint," Freeman said. "It's a lot better after the past three days I've had off. I was hoping to wake up today and realize it didn't hurt anymore. That's not the case."
Braves hand specialist Dr. Gary Lourie was scheduled to evaluate Freeman again on Saturday evening.
"They say it's going to be a lingering thing all year," Freeman said. "I've got to get to a point where I can play through the pain. Right now, it's not to that point yet."
Prospect Gattis out for at least three more weeks
ATLANTA -- Braves prospect Evan Gattis will have to wait at least three more weeks before getting a chance to resume playing for Double-A Mississippi. Gattis has been sidelined since May 17 because of strained tendons in his wrist. He suffered the injury while lifting a bag in an attempt to put it on an overhead compartment on the team bus.
"He felt something pull and then he played with it and it got sore and then he tried to compensate for it and it got worse," Braves assistant general manager Bruce Manno said. "We had to shut him down because it got so bad."
Gattis' left wrist has been immobilized by a cast most of the past month. He is expected to begin re-strengthening the wrist with various exercises this week. The Braves are hoping he might be ready to play again during the early days of July.
Gattis hit .385 with nine home runs and an .829 slugging percentage in 21 games for Class A Advanced Lynchburg this year. This prompted the Braves to promote the 25-year-old catcher with the intention that he would start spending time playing left field. He hit .274 with four home runs and a .581 slugging percentage in 16 games for Mississippi before being shut down.
Chipper Jones opted to rest on Saturday because he wanted to be in the lineup when McCann gets his chance to rest during Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Orioles. Jones experienced some swelling around his surgically-repaired left knee on Wednesday. However, he did not seem to think it would prevent him from playing third base and getting some at-bats as a designated hitter as the Braves play the Yankees and Red Sox next week.
Tommy Hanson notched the 500th strikeout of his career during Friday night's win over the Orioles. Hanson has registered 8.3 strikeouts per nine innings during his career.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.