Cox rests McCann and McLouth against Kershaw
When he arrived at Dodger Stadium on Saturday afternoon to prepare to face the potent Dodgers lineup, Kenshin Kawakami could have taken one look at his lineup and wondered if he was back at Spring Training.
Already without Chipper Jones, who will need at least a few more days to allow his strained left oblique muscle to heal, Braves manager Bobby Cox opted to give both Brian McCann and Nate McLouth a chance to rest on a night when Clayton Kershaw could have put their left-handed swings to sleep.
Heading into Saturday night’s start agaisnt the Braves, Kershaw had limited left-handed batters to a .174 batting average and .252 on-base percentage. Thus manager Bobby Cox opted to fill his lineup with as many right-handed hitters as possible and put both McCann and McLouth in position to bring their left-handed bats off the bench.
Filling in for McLouth, Ryan Church was given his first opportunity to start in center field for the Braves. McCann was obviously replaced with his dependable backup David Ross, who has actually hit right-handed pitchers better (.311 batting averge in 61 at-bats) than he has left-handers (.229 in 35 at-bats).
Entering this season, McCann had hit .282 in 465 career at-bats against left-handed pitchers and .303 in 1,167 at-bats against right-handers. This year there has been a much greater discrpency between this splits for the All-Star catcher.
McCann has hit .336 with 11 homers and a 1.020 OPS in 214 at-bats against right-handed pitchers this year. But in 106 at-bats against left-handers, he has hit .189 with one homer and a .511 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).
Jones, who strained his left oblique muscle during Friday’s batting practice, said that he didn’t feel any discomfort while simply walking around on Saturday. But the ailment is still bothering whenever he attempts to move side-to-side.
While there’s still a chance the Jones might return to the lineup on Tuesday, he likely won’t truly know his status until he arrives at Turner Field that day to prepare for the series opener against the Nationals.