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McCann takes center stage as Braves' lone all-star

A demanding job and travel schedule doesn't allow Brian McCann to stay as connected to Gwinnett as he would like during the baseball season.

The Atlanta Braves catcher wasn't aware of the recent push for all-star votes by some local residents, who put up signs and banners in hopes of getting McCann his first all-star game start.

"That's really cool though," McCann said. "It's nice to know you're getting support from your home and Gwinnett's always supported me well."

Although he wasn't the leading vote-getter among National League catchers - the St. Louis Cardinals' Yadier Molina, despite trailing McCann in every major offensive category, won the fan vote - McCann still got the satisfaction of being voted in by his peers.

That shows how other players feel about the Duluth grad, who is widely regarded as one of the top young catchers in baseball. He also has plenty of awards to back it up, including two Silver Slugger trophies, given to the top hitting player at each position.

And at the age of 25, he is will make his fourth straight all-star game appearance this week. No other Brave has made the all-star game in each of his first four full seasons - McCann also was the first to do it three times in a row last season.

"(McCann) deserves (the all-star nod)," Braves third baseman Chipper Jones told the Associated Press. "He's the best catcher in the league."

McCann's journey to the all-star game this season hasn't been as smooth as his previous three seasons. The problems started on opening night, when he began to experience blurred vision in his left eye.

The issue, believed to be a complication from Lasik surgery, eventually sent him to the disabled list. Contacts didn't work, but he's found the answers by wearing wrap-around Oakleys.

"It's a lot more hassle before I hit, making sure there's no fogging on the glasses, and then just wiping them off every couple of innings," McCann said. "It's not a big deal. Just little things like that."

The glasses figure to be a short-term solution as McCann looks at other options for the offseason. For now, he's focusing on another all-star appearance.

His first three trips have brought memories of a lifetime. His parents and his wife Ashley will make the trip to St. Louis for this week's game.

"The all-star game's always an amazing time," McCann said. "You get to play with some of the best players in the game, sit around the locker room and tell stories. The all-star game's just a great experience."

The all-star game is one of the few places where McCann hasn't been a star. His appearances have been brief and he has gone hitless in his only two at-bats.

"I'm 0-for-2, so I guess I'm not doing something right," McCann joked. "You do go to the game to have fun, but when the game's going on, you're trying to win."

Unlike many of his all-star teammates, McCann doesn't get an all-star bonus. But his selection and other goals that he's met increased the 2012 option on McCann by $1 million, up to $12 million.

Given his steady offensive performance for a team lacking in that area, McCann appears to be worth it. He still figures to be the centerpiece of the Braves' lineup this season as they make a push for a playoff berth.

"I think we haven't played our best baseball and we're still right in the middle of everything," McCann said. "We've had good pitching and we've played good defense of late. If we can get some timely hits, we can make a good run at (the playoffs)."

SideBar: The McCann File

· Who: Atlanta Braves' Brian McCann

· Position: Catcher

· Age: 25

· High school: Duluth

· Family: Wife, Ashley

· Noteworthy:

· Second-round draft pick of the Braves in the 2002 draft

· Has made the all-star game in each of his first four full seasons, the first Braves player to accomplish that feat

· Two-time Silver Slugger winner in 2006 and 2008