The Braves will face the Cardinals in Friday’s wild-card playoff game with all-star catcher Brian McCann on the bench. (David Goldman / AP)

All-star catcher Brian McCann will not be in the lineup tonight when the Atlanta Braves look to extend their season in the inaugural wild-card playoff game against St. Louis.

Banged up and struggling through the worst statistical season of his career, McCann will yield to David Ross after a decision that Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez admitted was difficult.

“I think going forward Mac will catch, obviously, in a longer series, a five-game series or even a seven-game series if we get that far,” Gonzalez said Thursday at Turner Field. “We’ll play the matchups.”

The 28-year-old McCann is hitting .230 this season – 39 points below his previous career-low – and hit only two home runs with 11 RBIs in August and September combined. McCann, who started all but one of Atlanta’s National League Division Series contests in 2005 and 2010, has dealt with shoulder and knee injuries all season.

Ross has also displayed chemistry with Atlanta starter Kris Medlen, which Gonzalez said factored into the decision. Medlen, who has not lost a game he has started in more than two years, struck out 12 batters on Sept. 3 against the Rockies and 13 against the Nationals on Sept. 14 – both with Ross behind the dish.

David Ross is hitting 26 points higher than Brian McCann this season. (Daniel Shirey / Getty Images)

“Defensively, we know how well he can throw people out,” Gonzalez said of Ross who has thrown out 44 percent of baserunners (15 of 34) to McCann’s 24 percent (24 of 100). “The Cardinals have a tendency to put people in motion a lot. And with the combination of Rossy and Medlen, maybe it gives you an opportunity to shut that down a little bit.”

“I wish I was playing. But I’m not. That’s it,” McCann said. “Rossy’s been playing unbelievable. I’m his biggest fan. He’s one of my best friends in the world and he’s been playing great.

“I’ll hopefully get in there somehow, maybe pinch-hit late. We’ll see.”

First pitch of tonight’s NL wild-card game is scheduled for 5:07 p.m. at Turner Field in Atlanta.

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