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Gattis gets first major league taste of left field

So much for wondering whether Evan Gattis would still be on the Braves roster when Brian McCann returned from shoulder surgery; Manager Fredi Gonzalez couldn’t bring himself to take him out of the lineup.

Gattis got his first major league action in left field – a position he played some in the minors last year and in winter ball – in Monday’s opener of the Reds series. With Jason Heyward (appendectomy) on the disabled list, Gonzalez moved Justin Upton to right field, where he played throughout his career with Arizona.

After watching Gattis deposit one ball after another in the second deck into the second deck at Great American Ballpark, it was easy to see why Gonzalez went that way. He planned to play Gattis in left field all three games of the Reds series.

“He’s played more of (left field) in the minor leagues than he had first base ever,” said Gonzalez, who started Gattis at first base three times when Freddie Freeman was on the disabled list. “I’ll bet if you ask him he feels more comfortable out there in left field than he did when we ran out at first base for a couple days. But it’s a good ballpark for him to play left. It’s not a real big ballpark. It’s not Colorado where it’s four acres of outfield it seems like. It’s a smaller ballpark. And he’s a good athlete.”

Gattis played 37 games in left field last year between Single-A Lynchburg and Double-A Mississippi, and he estimated 10 of his 50 games in Venezuela. He played a handful of games in left in spring training and said he shags flies for at least one round of hitters every day in batting practice.

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“I remember last year whenever I first got approached to play the position I was really excited,” Gattis said. “So just make all the routine plays and see what happens. I might get an opportunity to make a good catch or something.”

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