MIAMI -- The Braves continue to be encouraged by the progress Brian McCann has made while attempting to return from a strained left oblique muscle. But manager Fredi Gonzalez said his six-time All-Star catcher will have to wait until at least Friday before beginning his Minor League rehab assignment.
The Braves are being cautious with McCann, who has been sidelined since July 26. The 27-year-old catcher was hoping to be activated Friday, but it now appears he'll have to wait until at least Sunday.
"What's the difference between him being out 15 or 18 days in the grand scheme of things?" Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
McCann experienced no problems when he blocked balls in the dirt and completed some other catching-related activities early Tuesday afternoon at Sun Life Stadium. But rain prevented him from taking swings outdoors for a second straight day.
After McCann works out again Wednesday, the Braves will likely have a better idea about what he will be doing this weekend. He will more than likely need to play at least two rehab games before being activated.
Heyward tries to stay positive in throes of slump
MIAMI -- When Jason Heyward was 20 years old, he was elected to start in the All-Star Game. As he celebrated his 22nd birthday at Sun Life Stadium on Tuesday afternoon, the Braves' right fielder found himself telling reporters that he understands why he has lost his everyday role to Minor League journeyman Jose Constanza.
"I'm looking at it as a positive, like everybody is looking at it as a positive," Heyward said prior to a 4-3 win over the Marlins. "I'm the same guy in the clubhouse. It's not about me. I'm here for the long run, and I'm hoping to get back to where I'm producing on a daily basis."
Heyward had a chance to make an impact on Tuesday's game when he entered the 11th inning as a pinch-runner, but he was immediately picked off first base. Michael Bourn followed with a double, and Martin Prado drove him home for the go-ahead run.
Having hit .421 (16-for-38) in the 10 games played since his July 29 Major League debut, Constanza found himself back in the starting lineup against the Marlins. Despite the fact that the Marlins were starting right-hander Clay Hensley, Heyward was out of the lineup for the fifth time in the past eight games.
This marked the second time during this eight-game span that Heyward has been on the bench when the opposing team was starting a right-hander. Since returning from the disabled list in June, he is batting .120 (6-for-50) against left-handed pitchers and .282 (29-for-103) with a .476 slugging percentage against right-handed pitchers.
"You've got [less than] 50 games in a pennant race, you've got to try to put the best guys out there to help you win those games," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "That's Constanza for right now, and next week it might be Heyward because that's a big piece."
Knowing he has not had to preserve his energy to play an entire game on an everyday basis, Heyward has spent extra time with hitting coach Larry Parrish in the batting cage over the past couple weeks. He worked with Chipper Jones for a couple hours when the club was in New York this past weekend.
"He's been terrific," Gonzalez said. "I spoke to him again [Monday] about it. It's a tough situation when you're trying to work your way out of a slump and tinker with your swing and also attempt to compete and produce in the Major Leagues. His attitude has been great, and his work ethic has been terrific."
This has been a trying year for Heyward, who battled right shoulder soreness during the season's first two months, then spent nearly a month on the disabled list before returning to the Atlanta lineup with the benefit of appearances in just two Minor League rehab games.
While hitting .229 with a .318 on-base percentage and .399 slugging percentage since returning, Heyward has battled some of the bad habits that were displayed during the season's first two months and shown little improvement. He has hit .206 with a .324 on-base-percentage and .397 slugging percentage since the All-Star break.
"We need to win as many games as possible and [Gonzalez] is being patient with me, as is everybody," Heyward said.
Hanson heads to Atlanta for shoulder exam
MIAMI -- The Braves are planning for Tommy Hanson to return to the mound next week after getting a couple extra days of rest. But with his right shoulder providing him some recent discomfort, they opted to send him back to Atlanta on Tuesday to be evaluated by members of their medical staff.
"When a pitcher, athlete or baseball player comes to you and says, 'I don't feel good,' I think you need to go through the whole process of getting him checked out," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Hanson was on the disabled list for two weeks in June with tendinitis in his right shoulder. The 24-year-old right-hander returned to make three strong starts before the All-Star break. But he has struggled mightily in his past five starts, going 1-3 with an 8.10 ERA.
After allowing the Mets seven runs and four homers in just 3 1/3 innings Saturday, Hanson indicated to some reporters that he was dealing with some discomfort. He admitted that his shoulder was bothering him again while talking to Gonzalez the next day.
With an off-day Thursday, the Braves will be able to bring back Mike Minor on regular rest to pitch in Hanson's place Friday. The rest of the rotation will then fall in place until Hanson makes a projected return Tuesday, with four extra days of rest.
Jair Jurrjens and the Braves both remain confident he will be activated from the disabled list Wednesday.
Turner Field is nearly sold out for Friday and Saturday's games against the Cubs. Long-time manager Bobby Cox's No. 6 jersey will be retired during a pregame ceremony Friday.
Chipper Jones recorded his 27th game-winning RBI against the Mets on Sunday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that ranks as the highest total for any player against one team during the divisional era.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.