ATLANTA -- After missing the final two games of the weekend series against the Marlins, Brian McCann returned to the lineup on Monday night with the hope that he had taken the steps necessary to avoid the lingering discomfort in his right knee that plagued him last year.
When McCann awoke on Thursday, he felt some discomfort on the outside portion of the knee. The feeling was similar to what he experienced late last season, when he found it difficult to block balls, frame pitches and perform other defensive activities that force him to place added strain on the knee.
The difference this year is that the Braves have built a comfortable lead atop the National League East. Last year, McCann felt the need to play through the discomfort in an attempt to help his club reach the postseason.
After taking advantage of Thursday's scheduled off-day, McCann recorded two hits in Friday night's win over the Marlins. But with the pain lingering, he was limited to one pinch-hit appearance during the final two games of the series.
"If I played any other position, I wouldn't have a problem," McCann said. "I've dealt with it before. I didn't want it to turn into anything worse with a [big] lead. I know last year I tried to play through it, and I got to a point where I was having a hard time falling to my knees to block balls. It just didn't seem logical to do that this year."
McCann believes that the recent discomfort is a product of playing on what he describes as a "really, really hard" surface behind the plate at Nationals Park.
"When you twist and you go down to block [in Washington], there is no give," he said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.