The Braves didn’t plan for prospect Christian Bethancourt to get a crash course by catching three consecutive games this week against the Mets, but Gerald Laird’s sore oblique made it the prudent thing to do.
Bethancourt was called up Saturday after catcher Evan Gattis injured his back, and the strong-armed rookie started the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader at Philadelphia.
Laird caught the first game of the doubleheader and Sunday’s series finale, but lingering soreness in his right side led the Braves to go with Bethancourt for all three against the Mets in a series that wrapped up Wednesday night. The Braves are off Thursday.
“If (Bethancourt) wasn’t here I could play, (Gonzalez) knows that,” said Laird, who was honest about his health because he didn’t want to put the Braves in a bind by trying to play through it and potentially turning a minor injury into something serious. “(Gonzalez) just said, let’s nip it in the bud and then Friday will probably be my day to play.”
The Braves have Ryan Doumit as a third catcher, but prefer to use the veteran only to pinch-hit or back up the corner outfielders. Doumit has had concussions including one last season with Minnesota, and he’s caught just two games this season and none since April 10.
Laird said he first felt a twinge in his right side two weeks ago when he made a throw to second after blocking a ball.
“Been just getting treatment and kind of playing through it,” he said. “Then I felt it the other day, that hot day game in Philly. So I just talked to (Gonzalez), I said it just flared up a little bit. He said let’s (not risk it).
“I told him I could play. But we’re playing well, so let’s just get this nipped and go Friday. But I’m good to go now (if needed).”