Rookie slugger Evan Gattis gave the Braves a spark in the first half of the season but his impact slowed at midseason due to an injury.
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Gattis sent to Triple-A for ABs

It wasn’t exactly what Evan Gattis had in mind for “El Oso Blanco” night at Turner Field, but the Braves told Gattis Friday they were sending him to Charlotte to play the final three games of the Triple-A season with Gwinnett, getting some at-bats and working on his swing.

Then the Braves will bring him back on Tuesday after Gwinnett’s season ends.

“We need to get him some at-bats, we really do,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “And that’s the only reason we’re sending him down. He’s just not getting at-bats, and I think we’re going to use these next (three games) to get him eight, 12 at-bats, maybe even more, whatever we can get him, just to get him going and get him back to help us.”

Gattis’ eligibility for the postseason roster will not be affected. Any player who is a part of an organization as of Aug. 31 is eligible to play with that team in the postseason.

Gattis was told of the move Friday afternoon before the game by the Braves coaching staff.

“I’m excited to get some continuous at-bats from one day to the next,” Gattis said. “I’m optimistic and excited….

“I think it’s going to be a good opportunity for me to go see some pitching, different pitchers, and have four at-bats a game, and just see where we stand after that.”

Gattis is hitting only .188 (22-for-117) with three home runs and 15 RBIs in 36 games since June 1. He is on an 0-for-17 streak and hadn’t played in five games when he pinch hit in the seventh inning Friday night. With first base open and runners second and third with one out, he was intentionally walked by Marlins manager Mike Redmond. The Braves ended up leaving the bases loaded in the inning.

“I kind of expected it with second and third in that situation,” said Gattis, who had some 1,500 fans decked out in white T-shirts and foam bear claws in the left field seats, paying homage to his nickname “El Oso Blanco,” Spanish for the white bear. “It’s just baseball. But take a walk.”

The Braves are in the midst of a stretch of 13 straight games where they face right-handed starters, so Gonzalez has been less-inclined to play the right-handed hitting Gattis in left field. He’s also been trying to get B.J. Upton going at the plate as well as getting a feel for newly-acquired Elliot Johnson, who got his first start in left Friday night.

“(Gattis) hasn’t played in a while,” Gonzalez said. “He’s not swinging the bat and the only way to get him some at-bats is to get him down there.”

The Braves recalled outfielder Jose Constanza from Triple-A Gwinnett, who was expected to be called up when rosters expand on Sunday anyway.

Gattis can return to the Braves roster Tuesday because the rule requiring players to spend 10 days in the minor leagues before returning to the majors doesn’t apply after the minor league team’s season ends.

Gattis burst onto the scene in the spring, becoming a feel-good national story for his unorthodox journey to the majors after four years out of baseball.

He won back-to-back National League rookie of the month awards in April and May while hitting .281 with 12 home runs combined. In April, he homered in his debut and in his first pinch hit at-bat. He hit his first career grand slam in May and had five game-winning RBIs. Three of Gattis’ May home runs accounted for the tying or go-ahead runs in the sixth inning or later, including two in the eighth inning or later.

But after an oblique injury sidelined Gattis for nearly a month starting in late June, his season took a downward turn, and both his production and playing time have been limited in recent weeks.

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