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McCann feeling good after shoulder surgery

LAWRENCEVILLE -- About two weeks after shoulder surgery, Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann said he's feeling good.

McCann, a Duluth High School grad, hosted his fourth annual celebrity softball game for the Rally Foundation -- which benefits childhood cancer research -- at Coolray Field on Saturday afternoon. He spoke with media members in between autographs and pictures with fans.

"It's good," McCann said of his right shoulder, where doctors repaired a labrum tear on Oct. 16. "Being a little over two weeks out of surgery, I feel good about it."

Playing through pain, McCann struggled through 2012, finishing with a .230 average and 20 home runs and missing the All-Star Game for the first time in seven full big league seasons. The recent surgery is expected to keep him out four to six months, raising the question of whether or not he'll be ready for the start of the 2013 season.

McCann said Saturday only that things remained on schedule. He did not participate in Saturday's softball game or home run contest.

Braves reliever Jonny Venters, who did take a few rare swings Saturday, said he expects McCann to be ready come March and April.

"He's sore from the surgery, but I think he's excited about his option getting picked up and coming back (next) year," Venters said. "I think he's going to be feeling good by spring training. It was a good thing to go ahead and get done."

The Braves recently picked up their 2013 team options on McCann and starting pitchers Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm, guaranteeing all three will be back in Atlanta for at least one more year.

"I'm excited to be back," McCann said. "This is where I grew up, this is the only place I know and I'm glad to be back."

McCann said he's spent most of his downtime balancing the duties of fatherhood -- son Colt was born in July -- and the harsh demands of maintaining his Madden NFL video game skills.

"I'm on top of my game right now," he said with a laugh. "When my kid's asleep, I'm playing Madden."

Chipper returns, sort of

Chipper Jones also made an appearance in Lawrenceville on Saturday, strapping on the spikes a little sooner after his retirement than the future Hall of Fame third baseman imagined.

Jones played in both the game and home run challenge, but seemed to be enjoying the retired life. He's been doing some hunting and hanging out with his sons, who accompanied him to Coolray after a morning flag football game.

The 19-year veteran said he probably won't get the itch to play until January or February, when spring training beings creeping closer.

"That'll be when I probably need to go on a trip somewhere, try to get away and not read the newspaper, not watch the TV and just kind of let them get started without me," Jones said.

McCann both grew up watching Jones and played several years with him. He, too, said it probably won't hit that Jones is really gone until spring training.

"When you see some guy at third base other than him," McCann said, "it's gonna be a little different."