Braves catcher Bethancourt shows progress at plate

Braves rookie catcher Christian Bethancourt says he’s made no major adjustments to his approach or preparation and instead credits his improved hitting to staying consistent with his habits.

Bethancourt was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett Tuesday and made an immediate impact with three singles and two RBIs against the Phillies on Wednesday. Bethancourt’s RBI in the fifth inning put the Braves up for good in the 7-4 victory.

“I think I was always the same guy on and off the field and my work,” Bethancourt said. “I never changed my work. I was always doing the same routine, my same approach, the same stuff I do in the batting cage before the game. This is stuff I have been doing for four or five years and my (results) are finally showing some progress.”

It was Bethancourt’s second multiple-hit game in the majors. He also scored two runs and recorded his first stolen base.

Bethancourt, 22, earned the call-up for expanded rosters with a strong season at Gwinnett and a solid showing during a previous stint in the big leagues this year.

The Braves promoted Bethancourt when Evan Gattis was on the disabled list and he hit .240 (12-for-50) from June 28 to July 21. Bethancourt hit .342 (26-for-76) in 19 August games at Gwinnett and .283 (97-for-343) in 91 games overall.

“I was just patience at the plate and I was waiting on my time,” he said.

The Braves signed Bethancourt as an amateur free agent in 2008. He’s long been a top prospect because of defensive prowess that includes a strong throwing arm.

The Braves have been waiting for his hitting to come around, and the emergence of Evan Gattis last season allowed them the luxury of giving Bethancourt more time to develop. Bethancourt had just one at-bat for the Braves when he was called up in September 2014 and started this season at Gwinnett.

“I keep saying (he) may be better off for it in the long run by staying two years in Double-A, two years in Triple-A, instead of some of the other guys who need to learn how to hit at the major league level,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He is better off for it.”

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