Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann is expected to miss the first two to four weeks of the season after having shoulder surgery in October, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported Saturday.
Compounding McCann's loss is that backup catcher David Ross agreed to a two-year, $6.2 million deal with the Boston Red Sox.
The Braves have to find a catcher to fill in for McCann, who recently had his $12 million option picked up by the club. He is a free agent after the 2013 season.
The Braves have Christian Bethancourt, regarded as one of the best catching prospects in baseball, but he is just 21 and has not played above the Class AA level. He missed part of last season with a broken hand after getting hit with a pitch. The Braves reportedly are in no hurry to bring him up to the major league level.
He batted .243 with two home runs in 71 games this past season at Class AA Mississippi. He also hit .289 with five homers in 99 games with two Class-A teams in 2011.
The Braves also have a minor league power-hitting outfielder with catching experience in Evan Gattis. His strength, however, is hitting and not catching. Like Bethancourt, Gattis has not played above Class AA.