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Braves plan to let McCann heal for postseason

AP - Sports
Braves plan to let McCann heal for postseason

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Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann points from the dugout at the Milwaukee Brewers dugout after his confrontation with Brewers batter Carlos Gomez following a home run by Gomez in the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Curtis Compton)

ATLANTA (AP) -- The Braves are confident Brian McCann will be ready for the playoffs even though the catcher is not expected to start any of the team's final three regular-season games.

McCann left Thursday night's game against the Phillies with an adductor strain. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said Friday the team's medical staff believes ''we dodged a bullet'' because the injury is not believed to be serious.

Evan Gattis is the starting catcher Friday night against the Phillies.

Gonzalez said the plan for the postseason is for McCann to catch while Gattis plays left field. McCann could have a full week to recover before the team's first NL division series game on Thursday in Atlanta.

''I don't know if we can get him in a game before Thursday, but that's OK,'' Gonzalez said. ''I don't think he's going to forget how to hit and catch in seven days.

''That's a nice thing, too, where he can have seven days of treatment and seven days of settling it down. Maybe we pinch-hit him on Sunday just to get him an at-bat.''

The Braves also are hoping outfielder Reed Johnson and right-handed reliever Jordan Walden are healthy for the playoffs.

Johnson is in the lineup Friday in left field, his first start since July 25. He missed 38 days with left Achilles tendinitis and has appeared only as a pinch hitter since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 10.

''Obviously we need to see how he feels with that Achilles,'' Gonzalez said. ''He's going to play a big part sooner or later in a pinch-hit appearance.''

Walden has not pitched since allowing four hits and three runs in one inning against Washington on Sept. 17. He missed two weeks with right shoulder inflammation in May and has had more problems with the shoulder.

Gonzalez said he hopes Walden can throw an inning this weekend ''for him to feel comfortable and for us to feel comfortable that we can use him and he's OK.''

Walden also may throw at the Braves' instructional league in Orlando.

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