Brian McCann was out of the lineup for the second straight game with some soreness in his right knee. He caught Friday’s game against the Marlins, going 2-for-4 with a home run, but told manager Fredi Gonzalez his knee started bothering him when he was catching Brandon Beachy in the bullpen before the game.
McCann said he dealt with similar soreness last year.
“I tried to play through it last year and it kept getting worse and worse,” said McCann, who hit a career-low .230 in an injury-riddled 2012 season. “I just want to make sure that I don’t push it when I don’t need to.”
McCann was planning to sit Sunday and see how his knee reacted Monday before deciding if he was ready to return. The Braves activated Gerald Laird from the disabled list Sunday so with Evan Gattis they have two other catchers, which would allow McCann another day or two as needed. He’s still able to pinch hit.
“If I played any other position, it wouldn’t be a problem,” McCann said. “But to squat and trying to block (pitches), that’s where it gives me trouble.”
McCann is one of the hottest hitters in the Braves lineup. He’s hitting .321 (42-for-131) with 10 home runs and 28 RBIs in his past 35 games back to June 23.
Laird activated: The Braves activated Laird from the DL and optioned Todd Cunningham back to Triple-A Gwinnett. Laird is grateful just to be feeling good again after two weeks out because of a kidney stone.
“I don’t wish that pain on anybody,” Laird said. “…I’m getting it analyzed to see what caused it so hopefully I can prevent those again. Whatever they say it is I’m willing to give that up to never get one of those again.”
After failing to pass the kidney stone for three or four days, he had a 40-minute surgical procedure July 31 to have it removed. Otherwise Laird said, he might have had to wait 7 to 10 days, still not passed it and missed three or four weeks total.
Laird was eligible to come off the DL Saturday but decided to take one more day to get at-bats in Triple-A Gwinnett. He was 0-for-6 in two games of a minor league rehabilitation assignment.
“I just wanted to make sure everything was good after the procedure and taking the stint out,” Laird said. “There’s no lingering soreness. I felt good swinging…I went down there to see some pitches. I wanted to work the count and see some offspeed pitches. I was able to do that. I feel like when the time comes I’m ready to go.”
It just so happens Laird was ailing throughout the Braves’ 14-game win streak, which ended with Saturday night’s 1-0 loss to the Marlins.
“It’s one of those things where baseball players are superstitious, I was like ‘I don’t even know if I want to come back until they lose,’” Laird said. “I told (Jordan) Schafer that, then he came back and he ruined the streak. I’m a good teammate I took an extra day and got some more at-bats.”
Schafer, who was activated from the DL Saturday, smiled from the next locker over. Schafer went 1-for-4 with a stolen base and a run Sunday in the lineup for the first time after 32 games out with a stress fracture in his ankle.
Walden update: Gonzalez plans to lay off set-up man Jordan Walden for a couple of days while he rests his sore right hand, but the Braves know they avoided a serious problem after he was hit by a line drive Saturday night.
X-rays taken on Walden’s pitching hand after the game were negative; now it’s just a matter of getting the swelling down.
“It’s just a bruise,” said Walden, whose hand is swollen at the base of his palm near his thumb. “It’s calmed down a lot today. Once this goes down, I’ll be good. Hopefully a couple of days.”
Walden is the primary right-handed set-up man to Craig Kimbrel. He gave up the losing run on a wild pitch in a 1-0 loss Saturday night, but overall has a 1.35 ERA over his past 29 outings, with 31 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings.
Hydrating: TV cameras caught Kris Medlen feeding a cup of water to Justin Upton in the dugout Friday night after Upton's first inning solo home run against the Marlins. But Medlen said he's done his hydrating "celebration" ritual a handful of times with teammates B.J. Upton and Brian McCann.
“It might have started with BMac because BMac hit a home run and I was just like ‘Man, he looks tired, running around the bases,’” Medlen said.
Medlen said he gave B.J. Upton some water in Philadelphia on his home run Aug. 4 before the umpires ruled it a double after reviewing it on instant replay.
“I told him to like get it back up because it didn’t count,” Medlen said, demonstrating with a gagging sound.
Just add it to the list of hugging, collar-tugging and hand-shaking celebrations the Braves had been using this year.
“Who knows how we come up with any of those - it just happens,” Medlen said. “It’s one of those random things you do when you’re going crazy, doing the same things every day.”
Notable: When the Braves 14-game winning streak ended with a 1-0 loss Saturday, it was longest winning streak in major-league history that ended with a 1-0 loss, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
The previous record of 12 straight wins before a 1-0 loss was also held by the Braves’ franchise. The Boston Red Caps suffered a 1-0 defeat to the Chicago White Stockings on Sept. 8, 1877, in the National League’s second season. In fact, only one other team in the last 29 years has had a double-digit winning streak end in this manner. That was earlier this season, when the Braves lost 1-0 to the Royals after having won their previous 10 games.
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