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McCann savors 1,000th hit experience

Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann (16) is shown against the New York Mets in  a baseball game Sunday, July 15, 2012 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Atlanta Braves catcher Brian McCann (16) is shown against the New York Mets in a baseball game Sunday, July 15, 2012 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA -- His future with the Braves after this season remains in doubt, but a healthy Brian McCann has removed any doubt that he is still a premier player.

The Braves catcher slugged his seventh homer since coming off the disabled list on May 6 and singled later Monday for the 1,000th hit of his career.

"It's a cool moment," the Duluth graduate and Suwanee resident said afterward. "When you're a kid, you don't think you're going to get a hit in the big leagues, let alone 1,000."

McCann is just the 25th Braves player to reach the milestone and only the fourth catcher, joining Del Crandall, Javy Lopez and Joe Torre.

"I hope to get another thousand," McCann said. "I'm going to keep going and keep playing well."

No one knows for sure where that will be after this season, though. McCann becomes a free agent and the Braves may not be willing to get into a bidding war with an American League team that could take advantage of the designated hitter to play him every day.

The 29-year-old hopes to stay in Atlanta, of course. But he isn't thinking long term right now. Short term is his concentration this season. That is also true with the Braves.

McCann, a six-time all-star, reached the majors at age 21 and singled in his first at-bat on June 10, 2005, against Dan Haren of Oakland in an interleague game at Turner Field.

"To make it up here to the big leagues and then to stay for a while and get a thousand hits here, it's something I'll never forget," McCann said.

The past two seasons weren't so memorable for McCann, though, as injuries took their toll. But he appears to be his old self after recovering from right shoulder surgery performed last October.

McCann hit .280 in his first 22 games back and drove in 17 runs. He had a .368 on-base percentage thanks to 10 walks.

"He's been great," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "It's a big bat in the lineup."

McCann has also shown improvement defensively after the surgery, throwing out his fifth would-be base stealer in 13 attempts on Monday.

It was the time needed to build back arm strength that forced McCann to miss the first five weeks of the season.

"If we'd been an American League club, he could have broken camp with us," Gonzalez said. "He was already swinging that good."

Of course, there is no designated hitter in the National League and that could be a big part of where McCann plays after this season.