3rd All-Star pick special for McCann

Brian McCann experienced at least one thing he didn't plan on Sunday - namely, playing the equivalent to an entire game behind the plate on what was supposed to be a day off.

However, something the Atlanta Braves catcher was planning on - or, at least, hoping for - was the news he had been selected as a reserve for the National League squad in the 2008 All-Star Game on July 15 in the Bronx, New York.

The Duluth resident and former Duluth High School star became an all-star for the third straight season after his selection by National League manager Clint Hurdle of the Colorado Rockies on Sunday after he was selected to join Chicago Cubs rookie Geovany Soto and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Russell Martin as the NL catchers.

McCann said this trip to the All-Star game means more to him than even the past two years.

Part of it may be because of the game's locale - fabled Yankee Stadium, which will close after this season after 85 years as the New York Yankees move into a new ballpark across the street.

The other part may be because the selection makes him the first player in Braves history to be picked as an All-Star in his first three full seasons in the major leagues.

"This is more special to me (than the previous two selections)," McCann said in an interview with mlb.com Sunday. "I think the other two just happened. This year, I thought I should be a part of it. The last couple of years, I kind of went into it blind, and this year, I put myself in position where I could get picked."

Indeed, McCann has put himself in very good position to make the All-Star team by hitting .293 with 15 home runs and 48 RBIs heading into Monday night's game in Los Angeles, and has been one of the bright spots in what has been an otherwise disappointing first half of the season for the Braves.

His numbers are very comparable to those of Soto (.289, 15 HRs, 52 RBIs), who garnered 3,096,135 fan votes to win the starting spot over McCann, who finished third in the balloting behind Soto and Milwaukee Brewers backstop Jason Kendall.

McCann will be joined by teammate Chipper Jones in representing the Braves at the All-Star Game. Jones was elected as the NL's starting third baseman after receiving 3,772,211 votes, trailing only Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley (3,889,602) and Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun (3,835,840) for most votes received by any National League player.

"I'm thrilled for Chipper and Mac," Braves manager Bobby Cox told mlb.com Sunday. "Those guys definitely deserve it. They're having wonderful seasons."

- Mlb.com contributed to this report