PHOENIX -- Brian McCann's right shoulder should continue to get stronger as he moves further away from the surgical procedure he underwent in October. But the veteran Braves catcher already has made a good impression during his first week back at the Major League level.
Since recording one hit in his first eight at-bats after being activated from the disabled list, McCann has looked much like he did while winning five Silver Slugger Awards. The 29-year-old catcher entered Tuesday with six hits, including three home runs, in his past 13 at-bats.
"I think this is as good as I've seen him in a while," Braves pitcher Tim Hudson said. "This is the guy that I remember from before he got hurt, the way he's swinging it and the way he's throwing it. His throwing is still a work in progress with the shoulder. But he's definitely feeling comfortable at the plate."
Despite the fact he will likely not regain his normal arm strength before the 2014 season, McCann has thrown out two of the four opponents who have attempted to steal a base against him this year. This is certainly encouraging given the fact that he threw out just 17.8 percent of the opponents that attempted to steal against him the past two seasons.
This is essentially the first time McCann has been at full strength since straining his left oblique on July 26, 2011. He looked uncomfortable the remainder of that season and battled right shoulder discomfort through much of last season.
"He's healthy and feels good about himself," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I think we are bringing him around the right way."
Sticking to a schedule that has not allowed him to catch more than two consecutive games since he returned last week, McCann rested during Tuesday night's game against the D-backs. But Gonzalez said McCann might catch each of the three games during this weekend's series against the Dodgers.
"He's getting to that age where you have to keep an eye on him," Gonzalez said. "You don't want to wear him out."
B.J. Upton gets day off after taking pitch on shoulder
PHOENIX -- B.J. Upton gained a sense of relief Tuesday when his left shoulder did not feel as bad as he had expected after he was hit with a Wade Miley fastball during the sixth inning of Monday night's 10-1 win over the D-backs.
Upton was not in the Braves lineup for Tuesday night's game at Chase Field. But the veteran center fielder said there is a chance he could return to action for Wednesday's series finale against the D-backs.
"It's better than I thought it was going to be today," Upton said. "It's not too bad. I'm assuming I'll probably [play] tomorrow."
Upton admitted Tuesday that he was more concerned than he had indicated late Monday night.
When his shoulder tightened and prevented him from taking a pain-free swing in the on-deck circle during Monday's seventh inning, he was cognizant that this was the same shoulder that was surgically repaired (partially torn labrum) by Dr. James Andrews after the 2008 season.
"This is the shoulder that has been repaired in the past," Upton said. "So I've kind of been there before. I didn't like the feel when I went to take the practice swing on deck. It was kind of a red flag for me."
Upton's first six weeks with the Braves have proved to be disappointing as he has batted .151 with a .504 OPS. The fact that he had shown signs of encouragement while hitting the ball hard in his only two at-bats on Monday added to his frustration of not being able to play on Tuesday.
• Brandon Beachy's fastball sat between 92-93 mph as he threw 29 pitches and completed two innings during an extended spring game in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Tuesday. This was Beachy's first appearance in a game since undergoing Tommy John surgery in June. He will officially begin his Minor League rehab assignment with a three-inning stint for Triple-A Gwinnett on Sunday.
• Right-hander J.R. Graham, the Braves' top prospect according to MLB.com, was forced to exit Monday night's start for Double-A Mississippi after experiencing some right shoulder discomfort. The Braves were encouraged by the results of tests performed after the game and further encouraged when Graham awoke Wednesday with what was termed "normal soreness." As of late Tuesday, the club had not received the results of Wednesday's medical evaluation.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.