MLB

McCann returns to Braves lineup

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CINCINNATI (AP)

The Braves activated Brian McCann off the disabled list on Monday, completing the catcher's comeback from surgery on his throwing shoulder last October.

The six-time All-Star was in the starting lineup for the opening game of a series against the Cincinnati Reds.

McCann tore the labrum in his right shoulder and had surgery on Oct. 16. He'd felt discomfort for most of the season, when he batted a career-low .230 with 20 homers and 67 RBIs in 121 games.

OUCH!

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''I'm excited,'' he said before the game. ''When you have a surgery like I had, you don't know how your body is going to respond to it. Shoulders play a big part in what we do. To be able to be here 6 1/2 months out of surgery and feel the way I do, I'm very pleased.''

McCann played seven games in the minors as a rehabilitation assignment. He batted .348 with one double, four homers and nine RBIs at Class A and Triple-A. The biggest question was how his shoulder would respond to all the throwing.

''I had a really good rehab stint,'' McCann said. ''Things went well, just the way the ball was coming out (on throws) and how I was recovering the next day. I pushed it as much as I could and woke up the next day feeling good. The strength is there and the durability is there.''

Manager Fredi Gonzalez plans to play McCann for the first two games of the series, then give him off for a day game on Wednesday.

''I can tell you this: He ain't going to be the McCann of old where you can run him in there six or seven days, at least not at the beginning,'' Gonzalez said.

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The Braves optioned utility player Tyler Pastornicky to Triple-A Gwinnett to open a roster spot. Pastornicky went 1 for 7 with a double in six games.

Right fielder Jason Heyward asked permission to take batting practice on Monday, another step in his recovery from surgery to remove his appendix on April 22. Gonzalez expects Heyward to take batting practice and work out during the series in Cincinnati. The Braves will decide at the end of the week whether the outfielder is ready to start a rehabilitation assignment in the minors.

Heyward initially thought he'd be out of the lineup until the end of May, but his recovery is going better than expected.

''I'm encouraged by the way he feels,'' Gonzalez said. ''He keeps doing better and getting stronger. We'll keep it coming.''

Tagged: Braves, Brian McCann, Jason Heyward

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