7/7/2013 8:00 P.M. ET
McCann remains among top offensive catchers
Atlanta's backstop has raised average 60 points over recent hot stretch
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- This marks the second year Braves catcher Brian McCann did not earn what had become an annual All-Star selection. But over the past week, McCann has provided some indication that his days as one of the game's top offensive catchers are not over.
Riding the momentum of Saturday night's four-hit performance, McCann entered Sunday's series finale against the Phillies having hit .571 (16-for-28) with two home runs and a 1.600 OPS in his previous seven games. His batting average has spiked from .233 to .293 during the impressive stretch. He singled in his first at-bat Sunday.
McCann's recent success provides further indication that he has fully recovered from the offseason shoulder surgery that sidelined him during the first five weeks. After hitting .280 (21-for-75) in his first 22 games, he batted .167 (9-for-54) in the 18 games that followed. But over the last week, he has performed more like he did while garnering six consecutive All-Star selections from 2006-11.
"I had a two-week period when I didn't feel good," McCann said. "The last week or so, I've been feeling really good at the dish."
There was not much reason to object when St. Louis' Yadier Molina and San Francisco's Buster Posey were the only National League catchers to gain All-Star selections Saturday. But with his recent surge, McCann has at least positioned himself to gain a selection if an injury opens a spot on the NL roster.
McCann has not compiled enough at-bats to rank among the qualified statistical leaders. But given he has tallied more than 20 at-bats more than Yasiel Puig, who is garnering strong support for an All-Star selection in the Final Vote, there is reason to point out McCann's numbers rank up there with those of Molina and Posey.
Among all NL catchers who have at least 150 at-bats, McCann leads the way with a .913 OPS. His 15.75 at-bats per home run ratio ranks second only to teammate Evan Gattis (15.70), and his .293 batting average ranks third, trailing Molina (.346) and Posey (.309).
With his fifth-inning double in Saturday's win, McCann notched an extra-base hit in a seventh straight game. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last Brave to do this while playing all seven games as a catcher was Earl Williams in 1972.
"I feel like I've done everything I've wanted to do coming back from a major injury," McCann said. "To feel as good as I do, having the surgery that I had, I'm very happy."
Beachy set to begin new rehab stint on Tuesday
PHILADELPHIA -- After spending the past couple of weeks recovering from an untimely setback, Braves right-hander Brandon Beachy has been cleared to begin another Minor League rehab assignment.
Beachy will start for Triple-A Gwinnett in Tuesday night's game against Norfolk at Coolray Field. This will be the first of the two or three rehab starts he will need to make before positioning himself to make his much-anticipated return to Atlanta's rotation.
The Braves had targeted Beachy to start one of the games of the doubleheader played against the Mets on June 18. But while making what was supposed to be his last rehab start for Gwinnett on June 13, he was burdened by what was diagnosed as inflammation in his right elbow.
As he has made steady progress over the past couple of weeks, Beachy has strengthened the belief that the inflammation was simply a normal setback experienced by pitchers when they are attempting to return from Tommy John surgery.
When Beachy was forced to undergo this surgical procedure in June of last year, he was leading the Majors with a 2.00 ERA.
Gattis likely won't return before All-Star break
PHILADELPHIA -- After spending the past two weeks resting his previously strained right oblique muscle, Evan Gattis now finds himself having to exercise patience.
Gattis has not experienced any discomfort since being cleared to begin easing back into hitting, throwing and running drills over the past few days. But it appears the Braves' rookie backup catcher will remain sidelined through the All-Star break.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he did not expect Gattis to be cleared to begin taking batting practice on the field before Thursday. Once Gattis completes this drill, he will have to play at least a few Minor League rehab games to shake off the rust that has developed since he was sidelined on June 18.
"I've got to get it right before I come back, so I can stay healthy the rest of the year," Gattis said.
Gattis' absence has weakened a bench that has also lost Ramiro Pena and Jordan Schafer to injuries the past two weeks. Gattis has six hits, including four home runs, in eight pinch-hit at-bats.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.