Astros in no rush to put Gattis behind plate
Veteran slugger hasn't caught a game yet, thanks in part to Stassi's emergence
HOUSTON -- Evan Gattis went through some early work with catching gear on Saturday afternoon, though it remains uncertain when he will get behind the plate in a game. Gattis, listed as the team's third catcher, has been limited to designated hitter so far this year.
Gattis, who started 47 games behind the plate last year as the primary backup to Brian McCann, caught sparingly in Spring Training, partly because of the emergence of Max Stassi, who's started three of the first eight games behind the plate. Gattis has started at DH in eight of the Astros' first nine games, including Saturday.
"He's obviously available to catch, and right now he hasn't had a chance to get back there, so we'll see how it goes," Astros manager AJ Hinch said.
Stassi is off to a quick start at the plate, hitting .417 over five games played, after making the Opening Day roster for the first time this year.
Gattis didn't catch during the 2015 season, though he did play some outfield. At the time, the Astros said they didn't want Gattis to be limited to DH, and he caught 55 games in 2016 and 49 games last year.
"We still don't want him to be just a DH," Hinch said. "It's just the way the games have played out. I think a lot of it has to do with Max Stassi, just his early-season performance and contributions. It's created a little less innings behind the plate. Gatti will get back there eventually. He's the third catcher, and the third catcher usually doesn't catch a ton, so we'll see when he gets back there."
Odds and ends
• Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel (recovering from Feb. 28 left hand surgery) is 4-for-8 with a double and two RBIs during his rehab stint at Double-A Corpus Christi. He was scheduled to be off Saturday before playing three days in a row. Corpus Christi is off Wednesday and the Astros are off Thursday. It's expected Gurriel will join the Astros on Friday in Houston.
• Right-handed pitcher James Hoyt (left oblique strain) has been activated from the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Fresno.