Gattis returns to Braves, B.J. Upton heads to DL
ATLANTA -- Evan Gattis' rehab stint with Triple-A Gwinnett was cut short by the news that Freddie Freeman would miss Sunday's game with a jammed left thumb. With Freeman ailing, Gattis got the start at first base for the Braves' series finale against the Reds on Sunday, making his return from a strained right oblique he sustained while taking a swing on June 17 against the Mets.
"We wanted to give him another one, but sometimes the best laid plans, you have to make adjustments, you have to make changes," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I think he's healthy from what I've seen in his batting practice and his timing."
Gattis was scheduled to stay with Gwinnett for the final game of the team's series at Durham, with the option of a quick trip to Class A Rome or High-A Lynchburg to get a couple of extra games in over the All-Star break if he had felt his timing still needed work.
"I didn't know with the Freddie situation, but I thought I was going to spend those three days [with Gwinnett] and then maybe days over the break somewhere," Gattis said. "But I'm definitely excited to be back."
Sunday's game will be Gattis' first defensive assignment since his return to game action. As the designated hitter on Friday and Saturday, the rookie slugger went 1-for-8 with a double in his final at-bat on Saturday night.
"A little rusty at first, and it felt good to square up a ball last night," Gattis said. "In an earlier at-bat, I squared up one foul, hit the ball hard, and was disappointed when I struck out. It wasn't because of my oblique or anything, I was disappointed because I struck out, so that tells me I'm ready and ready to compete."
Forced to make a roster move by Gattis' return, the Braves sent center fielder B.J. Upton to the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Saturday to preserve their already shorthanded bench. The team determined that the strained right adductor muscle Upton sustained on Friday night would need the longest recovery time of the three injuries to Braves starting outfielders from this weekend's series.
"We have to make a move, and we were trying to manage all those guys," Gonzalez said. "I think Jason [Heyward] is coming along as we planned, I think Justin [Upton] is coming along as we planned. We could've left it at that as it was and played with [Tyler] Pastornicky at third and Chris Johnson at first, but man oh man, that leaves you with a backup catcher and [Paul] Janish, so it's a tough way to play a Major League game."
B.J. Upton, who left Friday's game in the first inning after falling awkwardly while diving for a line drive, also felt that he was the farthest away from 100 percent out of the three ailing outfielders.
"It feels better today, but obviously it's not going to be a thing that just happens immediately," B.J. Upton said. "I guess we have to wait it out and see."
On Sunday, all three Opening Day outfielders were absent from the Braves' lineup for just the third time this season, with Jose Constanza, Reed Johnson and Joey Terdoslavich once again patrolling the outfield from left to right.
The Braves expect Heyward and Justin Upton to be cleared by the start of their first series after the All-Star break against the White Sox -- the earliest date B.J. Upton could return would be July 28, the finale of a weekend series against the Cardinals.
"I'm prepared for it," B.J. Upton said. "It's not a big deal with that All-Star break coming up, and I just need a little more time to get healthy."