Braves' Brian McCann won't be ready for Opening Day

Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Brian McCann won't be cleared by doctors until the middle of April, meaning he could miss the first month of the Braves season.

Earlier this offseason, Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann was optimistic about his chances of opening the season healthy. However, it now appears that the backstop won't be cleared by doctors until the middle of April, reports David O'Brien of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

McCann underwent shoulder surgery in October which attached all the ligaments in his labrum back to his socket in order to stabilize the joint. The procedure was expected to require six months of rehab, and McCann is just reaching the four-month mark.

McCann's shoulder feels good, but he also told O'Brien that he's not close to returning. The 29-year-old just started hitting off a team and throwing from 45 feet. He's hoping to gradually extend this distance in order to build back his arm strength.

While he's making progress, McCann said doctors won't clear him for "full-on playing in games" until April 15. He hopes not to require much of a rehab stint in the minors, but with the current timeframe there's a chance he misses the first month of the season.

And what an important season it's going to be for McCann. Entering the 2012 campaign he seemed a sure bet to sign a long-term extension with the Braves, remaining a face of the franchise. However, he struggled to a batting line of .230/.300/.399 over 487 plate appearances, and he's entering the final year of his contract.

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