01/12/08 7:37 PM ET
Notes: McCann embracing yoga
Catcher wants to gain flexibilty to combat late-season fatigue
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
Having already added noticeable muscle to his upper body during regular offseason workouts with his older brother, Brad, and former Brave Mark DeRosa, McCann decided a few weeks ago to begin strengthening his abdominal and lower back muscles by attending yoga classes.
"I just can't imagine Brian McCann in a yoga outfit," McCann's good friend, Jeff Francoeur, playfully said. "Sleeping in tights for an hour doesn't count as yoga."
Since coming to the Majors in 2005, McCann, who will turn 24 next month, has lost much of his baby fat. Still, it's hard to picture, this 6-foot-3, 225-pound All-Star catcher attending yoga classes that are primarily filled by women, some of whom are twice his age.
"It's awkward," McCann said with a smile.
After strengthening his shoulders and back, McCann felt the best way to increase his flexibility would be to begin attending these yoga classes with his brother, Brad, who is currently playing in the Royals farm system.
"We were trying to get stronger and we've accomplished that," McCann said. "Now we're trying to stay flexible, stay loose, don't get too tight."
By increasing his flexibility, McCann believes he'll have greater range behind the plate and not be bothered with the late-season fatigue he felt in his hips this past season. As for the greater upper body strength, he hopes it helps him improve a homer total that dipped from 24 to 18 over the course of the past two seasons.
One of DeRosa's high school friends is a professional trainer, who every two weeks has sent this trio a DVD that includes a specific workout program aimed at adding upper-body strength.
"We've stuck to it and I feel like it's helped me out tremendously," McCann said. "This is the best shape I've ever been in."
Finally, relief: When Chipper Jones badly injured both of his hands during a May 11 collision in Pittsburgh, he didn't know the pain was actually going to linger into December. Despite the constant pain the palm of his hands, he still ended up hitting a career-best .337 and competed for his first career batting title until the regular season's final day.
"My hands stopped hurting three weeks ago," Jones said. "They hurt for like six months. That tells me there was some pretty significant damage. It feels good now."
After a few months of rest, Jones began baseball-related exercises on Thursday at Turner Field. It's safe to say his body provided him a reminder that he hadn't thrown or swung a bat since the end of the season.
"I couldn't put on deodorant the next day," Jones said. "But, I'm starting to battle back quite nicely."
Elite Passes: Earlier this week, fans had an opportunity to go to braves.com to bid on Elite Passes, which allow them to move to the front of the long lines that build for autographs, pictures and games at FanFest. The Braves sold each of the allotted 50 passes for each day and in the process raised $20,000 for The Braves Foundation. The highest bid was $1000.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.