Hard-Hitting Questions with Brian McCann

ATLANTA -- The Braves will save a seat on the team charter for All-Star catcher Brian McCann as they leave for Cincinnati following Sunday's series finale with the New York Mets.

"McCann's coming with us and he'll be activated tomorrow. He'll play tomorrow," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez following Sunday afternoon's 9-4 win over the Mets. "We're going to send [Tyler] Pastornicky down. It's a long baseball season. We'll see him back. He did a terrific job when he was here."

McCann DHed in his final tuneup game with Triple-A Gwinnett against Scranton/Wilkes Barre at Coolray Field on Sunday and went 0-for-1 with a walk as the designated hitter in Game 1 of a doubleheader.

The six-time All-Star appears ready to go, as he hit .348 (8-for-23) with four home runs, nine RBIs and five runs scored in seven Minor League games between Gwinnett and Class A Rome.

The only concern for McCann was his throwing ability after undergoing offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. He didn't get to test it behind the plate on on Sunday, but is comfortable with where he is.

"I passed that test a week or two ago," McCann said. "I feel great. I feel like I did before I had my surgery. The ball is coming out great. I'm ready to go and get the season started."

McCann's success at the plate during his rehab stint will bring consistency to the Braves' lineup, which has been feast or famine this season. The inconsistency in the lineup isn't something that McCann is worried about.

"I'm looking at the record, and we're sitting in first place in a tough division," he said. "It's just the way our team is built. We are going to hit a lot of home runs and we are going to strike out a lot. We are going to win a lot of ballgames, and I'm just excited about getting back."

The Braves are certainly looking forward to McCann's return.

"It's going to be nice to get all the pieces back," said left fielder Justin Upton. "We know we have an All-Star catcher coming back. I used to love to watch him play and swing the bat even when I was playing against him. So it's going to be fun to play beside him."

In McCann's absence, the platoon of Evan Gattis and Gerald Laird have certainly picked up the slack, with Gattis being named the National League Rookie of the Month for April.

"We're very excited [to get McCann back]," said second baseman Dan Uggla. "We've had tremendous efforts out of the guys that have filled in. A lot of guys have stepped up big time, but we're ready for the whole team to be here. Once guys get back, I think we'll really start to come together and figure out how good we actually are."

Heyward begins participating in baseball activities

KC@STL: Heyward rips a solo homer in the eighth

ATLANTA -- Saturday may have been a washout as far as the Braves-Mets game, but it was a nice day for Atlanta right fielder Jason Heyward, who took another positive step forward in his goal of returning to the lineup.

Heyward, who has been on the disabled list since April 23, the day after having to undergo an emergency appendectomy while in Colorado, took dry swings, hit off a tee and did what he called "aggressive throwing" in the indoor cages.

"It went well," said Heyward prior to Sunday afternoon's series finale with the Mets. "The goal was to go until you feel something so you know where we stand, see how it feels the next day and build off of that. I haven't had anything to set me back thus far. Every day, the next day I've been feeling good so far."

Manager Fredi Gonzalez feels good about the progress and looks forward to continuing good news once the team hits the road, with Heyward in tow.

"He's going to go to Cincinnati with us and take some live BP and start doing some more stuff," said Gonzalez. "It'll be three days in Cincinnati and a couple more days in San Francisco, and then we'll send him out to get some ABs."

Heyward, who has begun running and did so on a treadmill Sunday due to the wet grounds in Atlanta following a full day of rain on Saturday, will have a busy road trip, even though he won't be in the lineup.

"I'm going with the team on the road trip to stay with the trainers," Heyward said. "Make sure I'm in shape, get back in shape and get back in baseball shape, hitting on the field as soon as possible, running outside as soon as possible. So when I'm ready to go, I'll leave the team and do some rehab games."

"I haven't done anything max effort yet. But that's what I want to be able to do -- make sure when I get back here, everything is free and easy, we're not thinking about it and I'll be good to go. Of course, the rest of my body, being in shape, has a big part to play in that as well. So I do that, work with my hitting coaches and get ready to go."

The specifics will depend on how he progresses.

"There's still no timetable on where or when he's going to get a rehab assignment, he's just taking it day by day right now," said Gonzalez. "He's feeling better every day. Every day, his body is getting healthier and stronger. He's moving in the right direction."

Rainout enables Braves to recharge

ATLANTA -- No one will ever question the Braves' passion for the game and how much they love to play.

But sometimes it's not so bad to have a day to recharge, especially when you don't expect it. Saturday was one such day.

What was supposed to be their ninth straight game in a stretch in which they were scheduled to play 20 straight days instead turned into a one-day holiday. Rain, which began late Friday night and continued into the early morning Sunday, led to the decision to postpone Saturday's game.

Was Mother Nature perhaps sending a message to the schedule-makers?

"Maybe it was," said third baseman Chris Johnson. "It's been a tough schedule, but that's not something we really want to talk about too much because we're not about making excuses."

"We've had a tough schedule, and you look ahead and we've got 10 games or so on the road without any days off until we get back, so it was almost like a much-needed day off that almost should have been part of our schedule to begin with," said outfielder Reed Johnson. "It was good to kind of get that day off yesterday."

The decision to postpone the game came at around 2 p.m. ET. Perfect timing to enjoy a day at home with the family.

"It very rarely happens that you get a text before you get to the field," said second baseman Dan Uggla. "So once I'm here, I want to play and get it in. I don't come down here to wait on a cancelled game. But I wasn't even at the field yet. So not to have to worry about it, think about it, or even get to the field, it was cool. It was a nice relaxing day."

"Especially before a 10-game road trip, I got to spend the whole day with my kid and my wife," said pitcher Kris Medlen, who enjoyed the day with his 3-month-old son. "So it was a breath of fresh air."

Not everyone was 100 percent behind the off-day, however. Closer Craig Kimbrel enjoyed the day of relaxation, but admitted there was a part of him that wanted the rain to cease.

"I did, definitely," he said with a laugh. "I wanted to get back out there on the mound. Hopefully, I can get out there today."

Worth noting

• Third baseman Juan Francisco looked better as he walked around the clubhouse Sunday morning. Francisco had to leave Friday night's game after turning his ankle running the bases in the third inning. He's listed as day to day.

• Pitcher Cristhian Martinez will head to the team's Spring Training facility in Orlando, Fla., to continue rehabbing his shoulder. Martinez, who went on the disabled list on April 11 with a right shoulder strain, will throw some bullpen sessions and batting practice according to Gonzalez.

• Saturday's rainout will be made up as part of a doubleheader when the Mets next visit Atlanta from June 17-20. The day of the doubleheader has yet to be officially announced.