ATLANTA -- After getting a day off Sunday, Braves catcher Brian McCann was back in the lineup for Monday's series opener against the Cubs. It was, however, in an unfamiliar position: the No. 7 hole. McCann had not started so low in the lineup since April 6, 2008.
But with McCann mired in a slump that has intensified in the last two weeks, manager Fredi Gonzalez said it was time to drop McCann in the lineup in favor of some of the Braves hotter hitters. Still, Gonzalez is sure McCann will break out of his slump.
"I'm not worried," Gonzalez said. "You look at guys, you see them walking around -- he's upbeat, he's confident."
McCann played 12 games in the last two weeks of June and hit .143 (7-for-49) with just two extra-base hits. Entering Monday's action, McCann was hitting .226 with a .295 on-base percentage this season. He was not named to the All-Star team when rosters were announced yesterday, and will miss the Midsummer Classic for the first time since coming to the Major Leagues as full-time player in 2006.
McCann said he can't figure out what's been wrong, but has been trying to get back to the production he's more accustomed to.
"I'm not happy with it at all," he said. "I show up here every day and I've put a ton of work into getting this thing right. Unfortunately, so far, it comes and goes. I'm waiting to get it and then for it to stick for, hopefully, the rest of the year."
Gonzalez said he thinks defensive shifts that have become more prevalent in baseball this year have greatly affected McCann's production.
"If you go back and look at some of the films, I think he's been one of the guys that have been most penalized for hitting into the shift than anybody I've ever seen," Gonzalez said. "He's swinging it OK; he's just not getting anything for it.