08/01/08 8:10 PM ET
McCann cleared to play
Recovering from concussion, catcher can pinch-hit
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
While catching multiple bullpen sessions and taking batting practice at Turner Field on Friday, McCann provided the Braves medical staff enough comfort to provide this clearance. The 24-year-old catcher hasn't played since suffering a mild concussion during a collision on Sunday with Phillies outfielder Shane Victorino.
"I feel good," McCann said. "I feel ready."
Once McCann passed his final tests and proved that he could pinch hit and serve as a backup catcher this weekend, the Braves opted to designated backup catcher Corky Miller for assignment. They had to make this roster move to make room for Chuck James, who was promoted from Triple-A Richmond to make Friday's start.
Clint Sammons, who hit his first career homer during a career-best three-hit performance on Thursday, will serve as the starting catcher this weekend and then likely serve as McCann's backup for the rest of this season and beyond.
Before Friday, McCann hadn't even attempted to do any baseball-related exercises outdoors. Medical staffs for all professional sports teams are showing more concern for any head-related injuries.
After suffering a concussion courtesy of Yunel Escobar's knee at Turner Field on May 22, Mets outfielder Ryan Church pinch-hit during four of the next six days and then still wasn't fully healthy when he attempted to return to the lineup on June 1. An additional three weeks of rest also didn't prove to be enough and Church is just now seemingly overcome his post-concussion symptoms.
"The way these things are right now, it wouldn't have been smart for me to come back too early and be out for a month or longer," McCann said.
While Church continued to complain of headaches and dizziness for more than a week after his collision with Escobar, McCann hasn't experienced either of these post-concussion symptoms since Tuesday.
Given that he's batted .093 (5-for-54) this year, it's highly unlikely that Miller will be claimed off waivers by another team. The 32-year-old catcher will likely be assigned to Richmond to finish this season.
One of the primary reasons the Braves continued to carry Miller was the fact they wanted to provide some more seasoning for Sammons, who hit .237 with a .295 on-base percentage with Richmond this year.
Now it appears that Sammons will be given his chance to serve as McCann's backup for an extended period. The two catchers have known each other since they were high school rivals in suburban Atlanta.
Sammons was the Parkview High School quarterback who made a habit of throwing touchdown passes to Jeff Francoeur on the way the to a state championship in 2000.
"From 25-30 yards, he could put [his passes] wherever he wanted," Francoeur said. "We had to work on the deep ball a little bit."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.