With Evan Gattis nursing a sore back muscle and a doubleheader to play against the Phillies Saturday, the Braves called up catching prospect Christian Bethancourt from Triple-A Gwinnett. The roster move was made between games late Saturday afternoon and Bethancourt was inserted in the lineup for Game 2 of the doubleheader.
Bethancourt got his first major league start, catching and batting eighth Saturday night at Citizens Bank Park.
Bethancourt got one plate appearance during a September call-up last year, striking out in a pinch-hit appearance, but this was his first action behind the plate.
The Braves optioned right-hander Juan Jaime to Triple-A Gwinnett to create room on the roster for Bethancourt. They didn’t want to put Gattis on the disabled list because they believe his injury will only have him out of action for a few days.
Backup catcher Gerald Laird caught two games in less than 24 hours, Friday night’s game after Gattis left hurt and Saturday’s day game, the first of a split-doubleheader. Laird, 34, had only caught two games of a doubleheader one time in his career- Sept. 29, 2009 with the Tigers against the Twins.
The Braves also have Ryan Doumit on the bench as a third catcher, but he’s only caught two games all year, the last of which was April 10. Doumit got the start Saturday night in right field.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez had originally said he planned to catch Laird for both games and hoped with Gattis getting treatment throughout the day, Gattis could come off the bench to hit or catch in an emergency. But the team had flown Bethancourt to town and changed course after the first game ended at 5:15 p.m.
Bethancourt, 22, was just named to his third Futures Game for the game’s top prospects. He’s long been considered the organization’s catcher of the future. A gifted defensive catcher, the next step in his development was at the plate, and Bethancourt responded by hitting .273 in three home runs and 32 RBIs in 63 games in Triple-A Gwinnett.
Gattis continued to have soreness in rhomboid muscle after receiving treatment throughout the day Saturday. He suffered spasms as he swung through a changeup in a first-inning at-bat on Friday night.
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