After 10 days without watching Evan Gattis take any ferocious swings, many Braves fans are pining for the return of El Oso Blanco from the disabled list.
But as of Friday, the rookie catcher still had lingering soreness in his strained right oblique and hadn’t been cleared to resume strenuous activities. Though eligible to return from the 15-day DL on Wednesday, he won’t be ready that soon.
“He hasn’t swung a bat or thrown a baseball, or any of that kind of stuff,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Gattis said his side has improved significantly since he injured it taking a swing in a game June 17.
“As soon as it happened it was really sore,” he said. “It balled up. I did get an injection that day; that helped quite a bit. It was sore for a couple of days. Any soreness I get now is really from treatment. I do my core work and all that stuff.”
Gattis has hit .252 and still leads major league rookies by wide margins in home runs (14), RBIs (37) and slugging percentage (.577). No other rookie had more than eight homers or 27 RBIs before Friday. The Braves have particularly missed him as a pinch-hitter, where he was a sensational 6-for-8 with a double, four homers and 11 RBIs.
Gattis didn’t accompany the Braves on the trip to Milwaukee and Kansas City that ended Wednesday.
“Just going through my treatment, working to get back on the field,” he said. “I just haven’t been cleared for baseball activity yet. There’s no actual date or time frame, but as soon as possible, obviously. It’s a balancing act between trying to push it and trying to let it heal at the same time.”
Schafer scratched: Jordan Schafer was scratched from the lineup Friday because of soreness in his right ankle from the foul tip he hit off it during Wednesday’s game at Kansas City.
Schafer was in the first lineup posted Friday, playing center field and batting leadoff. It would have been the fifth consecutive start for a player who’s been one of the Braves’ more pleasant surprises this season, batting .309 with a .397 on-base percentage and a team-high nine stolen bases in 59 games.
Gonzalez said Schafer might be available to pinch-hit Friday.
Pena update: General manager Frank Wren said infielder Ramiro Pena should be ready for spring training after having surgery Thursday to repair a torn labrum.
Wren wouldn’t say whether the Braves might seek a trade to replace the versatile Pena, who was having his best season on offense, batting .278 in 97 at-bats with a career-high in extra-base hits (nine) and home runs (three).
“We’ll see how the (current) guys play,” Wren said. “We get the defensive element from Paul Janish.”
The Braves have two backup infielders on the current 25-man roster, light-hitting defensive stalwart Janish and Tyler Pastornicky. One is expected to return to Triple-A when Gattis returns.
Pena considered trying to play with the injury and postpone surgery until after the season.
“After Dr. (James) Andrews saw him, they didn’t feel there was a real high-percentage chance that he could just rehab and come back and play and wait till the end of the year to have the surgery because of what they saw in the MRI,” Wren said.
Etc.: Brandon Beachy, whose rehab has been shut down for two weeks because of inflammation in his surgically repaired pitching elbow, will probably throw off a mound during the homestand, Gonzalez said. Beachy likely would have a couple of bullpen sessions before being sent out to resume his minor league rehab assignment. … Reliever Luis Ayala threw the hardest he has since going on the DL during an appearance at Triple-A Gwinnett. … Ex-Brave Eric Hinske was designated for assignment by Arizona. He hit .173 with one homer in 53 at-bats.
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