We already knew that Brian McCann wasn’t going to be ready for Opening Day after right shoulder surgery, but there’s a chance that the Braves could be without him for the entire first month of the season.
According to Mark Bowman of MLB.com, Braves general manager Frank Wren confirmed this morning that McCann will not play in a minor league game before April 16. That would put him six months removed from shoulder surgery. It’s not clear how many rehab games he’ll need to play, but it’s possible that he won’t be ready to rejoin the Braves until the end of April or perhaps later.
McCann was cleared to take batting practice at the end of February, but since he’s still building strength in his shoulder, throwing is the biggest challenge. He’s currently limited to long-toss exercises from a distance of 120 feet and isn’t ready to make strong throws down to second base.
Gerald Laird, who joined the Braves this winter on a two-year, $3 million contract, is expected to function as the primary catcher during McCann’s absence. Evan Gattis and Matt Pagnozzi are currently competing for the backup gig.