McCann earns fourth straight ASG trip
Braves catcher will back up Cards' Molina in St. Louis
ATLANTA -- Last year, Brian McCann earned an opportunity that hadn't been bestowed upon Hall of Famers Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews or Warren Spahn. Now, with his latest All-Star selection, the Braves catcher has linked himself to Greg Maddux.
When this year's All-Star rosters were announced on Sunday afternoon, McCann became the first Braves player since Maddux to gain four consecutive selections. Last year, he became the first player in franchise history to earn three selections in his first three full seasons.
Aaron had been the organization's only player to gain three selections in his first four full seasons.
"He deserves it," Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. "He's the best catcher in the league, no doubt, all-around. You can't argue with what he does year in, year out on a consistent basis. Offensively, nobody can rival him. Maybe [Twins catcher Joe] Mauer, but fortunately, he's in the other league."
While Yadier Molina was elected the National League's starting catcher via fan balloting, McCann was the overwhelming choice among the NL players, managers and coaches who cast ballots.
McCann, who will serve as the NL's only backup catcher for the July 14 event at St. Louis' Busch Stadium, said that the fact that he spent the first five weeks of this season battling blurred vision in his left eye added to the significance of this year's selection.
While hitting .195 during the 13 April games that he attempted to play, McCann was searching for a solution that compensated for the reality that his vision had changed since he underwent Lasik surgery after the 2007 season.
Because contacts no longer fit his eyes, he opted to start wearing prescription glasses after he was activated from the disabled list on May 8. Since then, he has hit .329 with six homers and 26 RBIs.
"This is probably the happiest I've been [to make an All-Star team], because I didn't know what was going on with my eye earlier in the season, and I found a solution and was able to bounce back," McCann said.
The 80th Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and Sportsnet HD and televised around the world by Major League Baseball International, with pregame ceremonies beginning at 8 p.m. ET. ESPN Radio will provide exclusive national radio coverage, while MLB.com will provide extensive online coverage. XM will provide satellite radio play-by-play coverage of the XM All-Star Futures Game.
This will be the first time that McCann stands as the Braves' only representative at an All-Star Game. There was some thought that right-handed reliever Rafael Soriano or hard-luck starters Jair Jurrjens and Javier Vazquez might be selected.
But even with the addition of an extra pitcher on the roster this year, none of these hurlers gained enough consideration. While Vazquez and Jurrjens rank among the top 10 NL pitchers in ERA, the lack of consistent offensive support has also positioned both of them without a winning record.
Among NL relievers, Soriano ranks fifth in ERA (1.63) and fourth in batting average allowed (.159). In addition, he has been perfect in his seven save opportunities. But that total may have hurt him when compared to those of Francisco Rodriguez, Heath Bell, Jonathan Broxton, Francisco Cordero and Ryan Franklin, whose selections came with the assistance of at least 20 saves.
"I'm disappointed that we didn't get some more guys on there, but that's fine," Braves manager Bobby Cox said. "You can't pick everyone. We had some guys having real nice solid years that could have been picked, but I've been there. I know how hard it is to get everyone on that you like, and it's impossible."
As he continues to establish himself as one of the game's top offensive catchers, McCann is making it impossible to imagine that this is not just another of the many All-Star selections that he'll garner throughout his career.
"This is the fourth one in a row for him, so it's something you grow to expect," Cox said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.