May 1, 2009 at 7:20 pm by Capitol Avenue Club under Atlanta Braves, Injuries, Minor Leagues, NL East News
I previously noted that I’m concerned about McCann’s vision problems. More troubling news surfaced today. To summarize the events that lead to this, since Opening Day, McCann has been battling blurry vision in his left eye which led to an 8 for 41 slump. After sitting for a couple of days and trying a variety of eye drops and contact lenses per the recommendation of various vision specialists, McCann was diagnosed with an “infected eye”. I don’t believe for 1 second that there was actually an infection in his eye, but certain language has to be used in order to place someone on the DL. It’s funny how blurry vision isn’t an acceptable reason to put someone on the DL, but an anxiety disorder is. Anyway, McCann was placed on the 15-day Disabled List. Hoping to work through the problem through finding the correct combination of contact lenses and eye drops, McCann tried a new set of lenses and began a rehab assignment with the Class A Advanced Myrtle Beach Pelicans. The results were not encouraging.
McCann has endured a vicious cycle of contacts clearing his vision and feeling encouraged by the results only for them to cease working shortly thereafter. To quote:
“The contacts didn’t work,” McCann said. “They made my eyes too dry. I tried using drops and it would be fine for a while, but then it would be blurred again.”
So, in a last ditch effort to correct his blurry vision before resorting to a second round of Lasik surgery (he had a Lasik procedure done in 2007), McCann will try wearing glasses on the field. He’s ordered a pair of Oakley brand prescription glasses and will have another go-round with the rehab assignment thing to see if it works.
My thoughts, and I’ll preface this by telling you I have never worn contacts, glasses, etc.. I’ve rarely ever even put eye drops in my eye so I’m far from an expert on the subject and I could be 100% off base. I’m really just talking out of my rear, so don’t consider this expert analysis, or even good analysis (don’t automatically assume it’s bad, though (smiley face)):
I don’t hate the idea of trying glasses, but do you need a whole rehab assignment? It is probably a good decision to schedule a minor league rehab assignment, but he’ll probably be able to tell if it isn’t going to work within hours of trying the glasses, on or off the field. If they DO end up working off field, the next test would be a minor league rehab assignment to make sure they work on-field, but he’s probably going to have a pretty good idea right after he puts them on. I’m shaky on the decision to order Oakley glasses. Personally I’d like to see a pair of New Wayfarers as a tribute to Bob Dylan’s latest album. Oakleys? Pretty weak. Then again Oakley is the preferred sunglass of pretty much every baseball player, and they’re probably paying him a ton of money to wear them.
If this doesn’t go well, he’ll apparently have to have a second round of Lasik surgery, a risky procedure that would sideline him for at least 2 weeks and something he’d like to avoid at all costs. I understand the desire to avoid surgery. I would want to explore every other possible option before I assumed that risk if I were McCann. Likewise if I’m the Braves organization. His long term health is the most important thing in the organization right now. Whatever happens, the Braves can not afford to lose Brian McCann forever. In addition to having $24 million committed to him from 2009-2012, you’re talking about losing, for his prime, possibly the best position player that the Braves have developed since Rafael Furcal, and arguably since Chipper Jones. Any Brian McCann is better than no Brian McCann, so taking your time to figure out a solution that doesn’t involve a potentially career-ending surgery is a good organizational move.
The worst part is the wait. Waiting to see McCann in the line-up. If this is the solution we could see him in the line-up in a week. If not, we’re looking at 3 weeks. Fortunately, as I previously noted, we have a more than adequate back-up in David Ross, and if the Twins can survivie without Joe Mauer, the Braves can too. Mainly because there’s a bigger differential between Joe Mauer and the rest of the Twins hitters than there is between Brian McCann and the rest of the Braves hitters and the Braves have a better back-up catcher. Don’t get me wrong, production will suffer, but we still have a chance to win every night.
The bottom line is, while we need McCann to compete for the division title, we can afford to lose him for a few weeks right now. We can’t afford to lose him forever. And if we want to compete for the division this year, we need McCann at 100% when he does play, so taking extra time to work it out is a good move. I previously expressed displeasure with how the organization has handled the situation, but they’ve righted the ship and they’re currently handling it in the most appropriate manner.
We’ll see how it works out. I home this is the solution and he’ll be back on the 8th of May.
Update: David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution says McCann has hit with his glasses today and there is reason to be encouraged, but we’ve heard that before, haven’t we? Here’s what he says:
McCann hit with the glasses, said it felt good, that he thinks this will be the solution, at least until offseason. Docs have told him surgery should be last resort in-season, but it is an option if glasses doesn’t work out.
He hit in the regular glasses today, but the Oakley sports glasses should be here in a day or two. Said he doesn’t want to make any “this is the solution” pronouncements, because he’s said twice that he was doing better with contacts, only to have that change quickly.
But he said if he gets used to the glasses and the depth perception thing, this should work. Doesn’t know if he’ll have to wear them under the hockey mask, but if he does it should work because he would just leave the mask on when catching popups, taking throws, etc.
Good news, I think.
Let’s get to Hampton early tonight!