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Better late than never for McCann

Better late than never for McCann

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NEW YORK -- Brian McCann knew he was likely in for a slow night when he had talked with fellow National League catcher Russell Martin in the clubhouse prior the start of the 79th All-Star Game.

"Before we went out I was talking to Russell and he said he was going in after [starting catcher Geovany] Soto."

That left the Braves' McCann as the third catcher, and he realized he might not get into the game.

"It was one of those things where you can't burn all your catchers," McCann said. "I knew I was going to sit there until Russell couldn't go anymore or we needed a pinch-hitter."

What he didn't realize was just how long he was going to have to sit there. As Tuesday became Wednesday and the 79th All-Star Game set records for the longest game both in terms of time and innings, McCann did whatever he could to keep himself occupied.

He helped warm up the pitchers between innings and otherwise bounced around the dugout encouraging his teammates.

"I was in the whole game," McCann said. "I was watching the whole game."

Finally, in the 15th inning, McCann donned the gear and got behind the plate. His stay didn't last long, as the American League was finally able to put an end to the game when Michael Young's sacrifice fly to right scored Justin Morneau for a 4-3 win.

It figures that the guy who sat around for 4 1/2 hours before getting in would figure in a crucial play, but Morneau slid into home just ahead of McCann's tag.

"Real close," McCann said of the play. "They said he snuck his foot in, but I mean it was real close. You can't really argue in an All-Star Game, but he made the right call."

While McCann's work came late in this one, Braves teammate Chipper Jones' came early.

Jones started at third base for the NL and was 1-for-3. He got the first hit of the night for the NL with a single to center in the second before grounding out to short in the fourth and striking out in the sixth.

"I'm pretty happy getting the first hit for the National League there in the second inning ... another career highlight that I'll chalk up," said Jones, who was playing in his sixth All-Star Game.

The biggest thrill of the night for Jones came before the game even started. When the starting lineups were announced, the players ran out to their positions where they joined a group of Hall of Famers.

"You run out to third base and see Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt and Wade Boggs standing next to Alex Rodriguez," Jones said. "That's as good as it gets for guys who've carved a niche at third base through their careers. I think we were all looking forward to the pregame ceremony. Quite frankly, we're all pretty glad we got to play on this stage tonight."

For McCann, the game helped heal the aches and pains that accumulated during the season's first half.

"That's the best I felt all year, your adrenaline is going so much that you feel nothing," he said. "If you could feel like that every single day, 162 games wouldn't feel like 162 games. It was an awesome experience to be here and I'll have a lot of good memories.

"Somehow someway I was glad I got in."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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