Gattis still ill, out of Braves lineup in homecoming

ARLINGTON, Texas — Braves catcher Evan Gattis was out of the lineup for a fourth consecutive game due to strep throat, and no one was more frustrated than he was about it.

Gattis was born and raised in the Dallas area and makes his offseason home here. Scores of friends and family members planned to come to see him play in this series against the Rangers in his first visit to Globe Life Park in Arlington, after his improbable rise to the majors following a four-year break from baseball.

“I’ve got 300 people here to watch me play. I wanted to play,” he said.

Three hundred?

“Probably,” he said. “A lot. More than I know. But yeah, it’s frustrating. First time I’ve had the opportunity to play here.”

Braves manager had planned to use Gattis as designated hitter for all three games against the Rangers, and had hoped he would be up to it by Friday.

“He’s still symptomatic,” Gonzalez said. “Bubba (Braves head trainer Jeff Porter) told me he’s going to see the doctor here, give him a checkup as good as you can give him here (at the ballpark). But yeah, he’s symptomatic.”

Gattis hit a game-winning 10th-inning homer Saturday at Miami, then began to feel ill while catching in Sunday’s series finale against the Marlins. His condition worsened on the flight to Washington, D.C., and he was diagnosed Monday with strep throat, which he said he last had as a child.

He stayed back at the hotel Monday and Tuesday to limit the risk of infecting teammates, but Gattis came to the ballpark Wednesday, and said he felt better after getting medicine and IV fluids Tuesday at a Washington hospital. He suited up for Wednesday’s series finale against the Nationals and sat in the dugout, then flew to Dallas with the team.

The Braves were off Thursday and Gattis and his girlfriend spent the day with his girlfriend, Kim, and parents at the Lake Lewisville home that Gattis bought last winter north of Dallas.

Gattis said he didn’t know what happened or why his condition hadn’t improved, but said he felt “like (bleep)” on Friday.

Ironically, Gonzalez had said before Sunday’s game in Miami that he planned to play Gattis in almost every game the rest of the season in the playoff drive, after being careful with him all season to assure his surgically repaired knee held up and that the rigors of catching in the Georgia heat didn’t take too much out of the 250-pound slugger.

“We had a plan coming out of Miami, and I think I jinxed him,” Gonzalez said. “He hasn’t played since. So we’re hoping. We’re hoping at the very least that maybe he can DH or pinch-hit or something (this weekend), but right now he’s still hurting.”