ATLANTA -- When David Ross strained his right groin during a Spring Training game March 31, Braves manager Bobby Cox said that his team couldn't afford to lose the backup catcher. But the timing of the injury, combined with Atlanta's early-season schedule, allowed Ross to return at an opportune time.
Ross was activated from the 15-day disabled list and placed in the Braves' lineup for Thursday afternoon's series finale against the Marlins. His presence allowed the Braves to rest Brian McCann before they embark on a nine-game road trip.
With three scheduled off-days during the season's first nine days, McCann was able to comfortably be behind the plate during the entirety of the first eight games the Braves played this year. After recording six hits, including two homers and three doubles, in his first 15 at-bats, the All-Star catcher has tallied just one single in the 14 at-bats that have followed.
Ross, who combined for 37 homers during the 2006 and '07 seasons with the Reds, experienced no discomfort while completing a two-game Minor League rehab stint with Class A Rome this week. His return to the roster led the Braves to option Clint Sammons to Triple-A Gwinnett.
"[Ross] looked good during Spring Training," Cox said. "Clint is great, too. We just didn't have a chance to get him into any of the games so far this year."
The Braves will have to make another roster move when they promote Jo-Jo Reyes from Gwinnett to start Saturday afternoon's game against the Pirates at PNC Park.
While allowing four runs and retiring just one of the five batters that he faced during Wednesday night's ninth inning, Blaine Boyer strengthened the belief that he'll be designated for assignment to make room for Reyes, who will be starting in place of the injured Tom Glavine.
Because Boyer is out of options, there's a chance the Braves could lose him to another club willing to claim him. But there's a growing sense that the club has become impatient while waiting for the 27-year-old reliever to live up to the promise of his powerful arm.
When Boyer struggled down the stretch last year, there was reason to believe he was battling the strains produced when he made 51 appearances before the All-Star break last year. But while allowing six earned runs in his first 1 1/3 innings this year, he has encountered similar struggles with what should be a fresh arm.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.