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Wednesday, July 27, 2011
How long will McCann be out of action?


If you were up late watching the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves battle for 19 innings, chances are you were disappointed either as a fan or a fantasy owner … or both. There has been plenty of chatter over the questionable call at home plate which ultimately decided the outcome of the game. But for our purposes there has also been plenty of chatter about the big injury of the game, much of it coming my way via Twitter.

Here's a sampling of your questions about Braves catcher Brian McCann, who exited in the 10th inning with what the team later called a left oblique strain (McCann was expected to be placed on the 15-day DL Wednesday.):

@myown4nw: Any word on how long McCann will be injured?
@SloshballGM: What's the recovery time for non-pitcher oblique strain? When can we expect McCann back?
@Bwill02: Do you expect the minimum stay for McCann or worse? Our trade deadline is Friday

Brian McCann
The injury to Brian McCann is a big blow to Braves fans and his fantasy owners.

Naturally, there is great concern regarding the health of one of the top catchers in fantasy baseball (and baseball, period), but at this point it's hard to predict exactly how long McCann will be sidelined. As Sloshball notes, this is a "non-pitcher" oblique injury, but most often those injuries have happened during the swing of the bat. It is less common for a non-pitcher to suffer a throwing oblique strain, but at the same time, it is understandable that a catcher would do so given the maximum effort required on certain defensive throws. It was just such a throw in the 10th inning of Tuesday's game that resulted in McCann grabbing at his left lower side and back when he felt the strain. McCann was throwing hard toward second base on a stolen base attempt (the ball went high). Who knows if fatigue was a factor or if McCann may have felt something when swinging the bat earlier? From the appearance of the injury, it certainly caused a sharp pain, one that would not allow him to continue when he tried to subsequently test himself on a single throw to the pitcher.

While moderate oblique strains commonly sideline hitters and pitchers for at least a month, less severe strains often allow players, even those with big, powerful swings, to return within a few weeks. It all depends on the severity of the injury -- something the team has not yet declared -- and how long it takes for McCann to function without pain. Knowing that they will need him in the lineup come September, though, it's hard to imagine him being rushed back and risking a setback during routine play. As manager Fredi Gonzalez told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Hopefully it is not a bad oblique. There are different grades of it and hopefully we can get him back in 15-20 days." At this point it appears McCann is likely to exceed the minimum 15-day stay simply based on the pattern of recovery for these injuries, even the minor variety, but as to when he will realistically return, an optimistic projection would hover around three weeks, presuming no setbacks.

Quick Hits

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lance Berkman was expected to undergo an MRI on his ailing right shoulder Wednesday, according to the team's website. It's too soon to speculate what the imaging test and evaluation by the medical staff might lead to, but given that this has lingered since Sunday, affecting his ability to swing the bat, expect Berkman to potentially be out of the lineup for a few days minimum.

Toronto Blue Jays heavy hitter Jose Bautista gave everyone a scare when he absorbed a pitch on the left side of his batting helmet Tuesday. Bautista went to the ground immediately but was able to walk off on his own, escorted by the medical staff. After the game, Bautista told reporters, "My head doesn't hurt, I'm not dizzy. I feel perfectly fine." He says he expects to be in Wednesday's lineup but fantasy owners may want to check in advance of game time.