LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. – Brian McCann hasn’t let shoulder surgery keep him from perfecting his skills.
Not baseball; that will have to wait until his shoulder is healthy.
McCann considers himself the best Madden player in the Atlanta Braves’ clubhouse, so he’s had plenty of time with the controls the past couple of weeks.
“As soon as (his three-month-old son, Colt) is asleep, the Madden comes on,” McCann said. “I’m on top of my game right now.”
Video football was put on hold Saturday afternoon while McCann hosted the fourth-annual Brian McCann Rally Celebrity Softball Game at Coolray Field, home of the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves. The Rally Foundation raises money for childhood cancer research.
“It’s a huge part of what we get to do,” McCann said. “We have a platform to speak, and my wife and I chose this foundation to support. It keeps getting bigger and better.
“We wanted to do something to do with kids. We met some of the kids, and that was it. We wanted to be a big part of it.”
There was no way he could play, leaving that to longtime teammate Chipper Jones, Braves reliever Jonny Venters, the FOX Sports South Girls Brittany and Canicka, and several Atlanta radio personalities, former pro athletes and minor leaguers.
McCann had to be content with playing host, smiling for photos and signing autographs after having his right shoulder repaired on Oct. 16.
He struggled through the season with a torn labrum that was worse than originally thought. The injury led to his career-worst numbers of a .230 average and 67 RBIs, and his 20 home runs were two more than his career low of 18 in 2007.
“The shoulder is good,” McCann said. “I’m just kind of resting up and getting right. Being a little over two weeks out of surgery, I feel good about it.”
McCann said he spends about half of his day with his right arm in a sling and that his recovery is on schedule.
That means he likely will miss at least the first month of next season after the Braves picked up his $12 million option, but both the team and McCann are hopeful he’ll be back sooner.
If the Braves had declined his option, McCann would have become a free agent, but now they have the next year to work out another long-term deal or let the six-time All-Star become a free agent.
“I’m excited to be back. This is where I grew up,” said McCann, who is from nearby Duluth. “This is the only place I know. I’m glad to be back.”
Said Venters: “He’s definitely sore from the shoulder, but he’s definitely excited about his option getting picked up and coming back next year. I think he’s going to be feeling good by spring training, and I think it was a good thing for him to have done.”
As expected, the Braves also picked up the options on starters Tim Hudson ($9 million) and Paul Maholm ($6.5 million) on Oct. 30, solidifying their starting staff.
Barring trade or injury, Hudson, Maholm, Kris Medlen, Mike Minor and Tommy Hanson figure to enter next season as the Braves’ five starters. Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran could win spots out of spring training, and Brandon Beachy (Tommy John surgery) is on schedule to return by the All-Star break.
Medlen was 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA as a starter (10-1 overall), Hudson was 16-7 with a 3.62 ERA, Maholm was 13-11 with a 3.67 ERA, Hanson was 13-10 with a 4.48 ERA and Minor was 11-10 with a 4.12 ERA, but was 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA in September.
“(Bringing back Hudson and Maholm) shores up our staff,” McCann said. “It gives the younger guys another year to develop, and we’re really excited about where we’re at heading into next season.”