Braves bench McCann for wild-card playoff game
ATLANTA (AP) -- Plagued by injuries, Brian McCann endured the worst season of his career. He'll watch the Braves' wild-card playoff game from the bench.
Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez announced that David Ross -- not McCann -- will start Friday against the St. Louis Cardinals. But Gonzalez stressed that it's not a permanent move if the Braves advance past the one-game playoff.
"I think going forward Mac will catch, obviously, in a longer series, a five-game series or even a seven-game series if we get that far," Gonzalez said Thursday before a workout at Turner Field. "We'll play the matchups."
Gonzalez said he made the move primarily for defense, believing Ross has a better chance of keeping the Cardinals from attempting to steal. Also, Ross was behind the plate for two of the most dominant performances by starting pitcher Kris Medlen: a 12-strikeout effort against Colorado on Sept. 3 and a career-high 13 Ks against Washington on Sept. 14.
"You feel like (Ross) gives you a good chance to win the ballgame," Gonzalez said. "Defensively, we know how well he can throw people out. The Cardinals have a tendency to put people in motion a lot. And with the combination of Rossy and Medlen, maybe it gives you an opportunity to shut that down a little bit."
Slowed by a hamstring injury and an ailing right shoulder, McCann batted just .230 with 20 homers and 67 RBIs. Ross hit .256 with nine homers and 23 RBIs.
Gonzalez said it was difficult to tell McCann that he wouldn't be starting the wild-card game.
"I've been thinking about this for three or four days," the manager said. "He's a very important piece to our team and he's a warrior."
Gonzalez said Ross, a right-handed hitter, could start again if the Braves advance to face Washington and left-hander Gio Gonzalez, since McCann bats lefty. But the manager stressed that McCann will get the bulk of the playing time if Atlanta makes an extended postseason run.
"He's beat up. He's been banged up for a while," Fredi Gonzalez said. "Again, a one-game series, you go with Rossy. In a longer series, (McCann is) going to play. He's not that banged up."
Asked about McCann's reaction, the manager said, "He understands. It's tough for both of us, you know? But he understood."
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