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McCann passes eye test in Gwinnett

POSTED: May 7, 2009 10:54 p.m.
LAWRENCEVILLE — Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann had a shorter drive to work than usual Thursday.

The three-time All-Star traveled 10 minutes from his Duluth home to make a rehab stint with Triple-A affiliate Gwinnett Braves, where he tried out a new pair of Oakley glasses designed to correct blurred vision in his left eye.

“The house I live in now is right down the road, and my parents’ house is right down the road,” McCann said. “Where I went to high school is not too far away. I had a bunch of family and friends in attendance.

“It’s nice to be back here,” he added. “This is my backyard.”

McCann finished the night 1-for-3 with an RBI as the Braves defeated the Syracuse Chiefs 4-0. It marks the first time an Atlanta Brave has played in Gwinnett for a rehab assignment.

“I felt good, it went exactly how I thought it would,” McCann said. “I can definitely see better with them on, but I let one ball get to the backstop that I usually don’t, so it’s something I’ll have to feel out.”

McCann was expected to make his Triple-A debut Wednesday, but was forced to wait another day because his prescription sunglasses were not ready.

“We had to put a rush on them, they usually take 7-10 days,” McCann said. “But they’re here, so we’re ready to do this thing and move on.”

McCann wore a goalie-style catcher’s mask to wear over the glasses, but only wore the glasses when hitting, which he believes to be his biggest concern in the recovery process. He had only one hit in his last 20 at-bats and his average had slipped to .195 when he was placed on the DL on April 25.

“It’s been the toughest thing I’ve had to deal with baseball-wise,” said McCann, who had Lasik surgery in 2007 for his first vision treatment. “I’ve had perfect eyesight for a year and a half, then suddenly this.

“I’ll just do a bunch of trial and error. See if I can catch without the glasses, and if I can I’ll hit without them.”

McCann will join the Atlanta Braves when they visit the Philadelphia Phillies at 7:05 tonight. Should he start, it will be his first start since April 22. Atlanta is 7-7 without him in the lineup.

“I think regardless of how I feel I’m going to come off (the DL today),” McCann said. “I’m going to have to get used to the things (sunglasses) whether its in the minor leagues or big leagues, and I want to be with the team and I want to help them win.”

Despite the game being his first Triple-A appearance, McCann was already familiar with his temporary teammates, as he played with many of them when he first joined the Atlanta Braves system, including Brandon Jones and Gregor Blanco.

“One of my closest friends off the field is Wes Timmons, and I get to play with him again,” McCann said. “It’s good to see all your friends again.”

Regular Gwinnett Braves players, who were otherwise having an ordinary night at the field, were excited to have McCann in the lineup with them.

“Any time a guy like Brian is around it’s a lot more fun to be in the clubhouse and be around him,” Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson said.

McCann was also impressed by his new surroundings at the stadium, calling it “the nicest minor league stadium" he had ever played in.

“This is unbelievable,” he said. “The Braves do it right. The location is awesome.”

Despite McCann’s arrival, the game attendance of 5,170 was slightly lower than the average home attendance this season.


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