Braves get Gattis back into lineup in left field

Braves get Gattis back into lineup in left field

SAN FRANCISCO -- After giving Evan Gattis a chance to reacquaint himself with playing the outfield during this week's series in Cincinnati, the Braves had no reservations about putting the big rookie catcher back in left field for Saturday afternoon's game against the Giants.

"I think he's very instinctive," Braves bench coach Carlos Tosca said. "Somebody asked me the other day, 'Is this a catcher playing left field.' I said, 'No, he's an athletic guy playing left field, who happens to be able to catch.'"

Tosca, who served as the Braves' manager while Fredi Gonzalez attended his daughter's college graduation Saturday, has been one of Gattis' biggest supporters since first seeing the slugger's powerful swing in Spring Training last year.

Gattis achieved immediate success at the Major League level while serving as Atlanta's starting catcher throughout most of April. But now that six-time All-Star catcher Brian McCann has returned from offseason shoulder surgery, the Braves are attempting to find ways to continue benefitting from Gattis' offensive potential.

The Braves utilized Gattis as their left fielder during each of the three games played in Cincinnati earlier this week and then opted to keep him out of the lineup for the first two games of this weekend's four-game series against the Giants. This allowed Gattis a chance to get acquainted with the more cavernous AT&T Park's outfield during batting practice Thursday and Friday.

"I don't see any difference [between Cincinnati's outfield and San Francisco's]," Gattis said. "It's just bigger."

Gattis played 37 games in left field with Double-A Mississippi last year and then spent some time in the outfield while playing in the Venezuelan Winter League.

When right fielder Jason Heyward returns from the disabled list, it will be more difficult for the Braves to keep Gattis' bat in the lineup on a consistent basis.

To make room for Heyward on the active roster, the Braves could opt to go to a six-man bullpen or possibly trade veteran backup catcher Gerald Laird. The latter option would obviously allow Gattis to serve as McCann's primary backup.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.