This is Heyward’s fourth season and the Braves’ first opening-day game at home since 2010, when he homered in his first major league at-bat – after catching the ceremonial first pitch from Braves legend Hank Aaron.
Heyward also homered in his first at-bat of the 2011 season opener at Nationals Park. So he knows something about channeling the energy and excitement of opening day. And he was feeling good Sunday, a day before facing the Phillies.
“I’m not too antsy, not too laid back,” he said. “I’m ready to go. I know it’s go time. I know it’s time to go have some fun.”
Gattis in Wednesday lineup? Veteran Gerald Laird will catch Tim Hudson on opening day, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said he might give start rookie catcher Evan Gattis in the second game Wednesday.
Gattis, 26, was a non-roster spring-training invitee whose unusual background and spring power-hitting displays made him the most talked-about Brave other than perhaps Justin Upton. He hasn’t played above Double-A.
At third base, Chris Johnson starts the opener and Juan Francisco starts Wednesday. Gonzalez plans to start out with a straight platoon of Johnson against lefties and Francisco against righties, which could change.
Venters to doctor Monday: The Braves should know the severity of Jonny Venters' left elbow injury after the reliever visits Dr. James Andrews on Monday morning in Pensacola. Fla. Venters left a game against Detroit Tuesday with what was diagnosed as a sprain, and the Braves hope it's not a damaged ligament.
Andrews did Tommy John surgery to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in Venters’ left elbow in 2005.
Roster finalized: There were no surprises on the Braves' 25-man opening day roster announced Sunday. With Venters opening the season on the DL, the Braves were able to keep reliever Anthony Varvaro, who was out of minor-league options and would've had to go through waivers before he could be sent down.
The roster: starting pitchers Hudson, Kris Medlen, Paul Maholm, Mike Minor and Julio Teheran; relievers Craig Kimbrel, Eric O’Flaherty, Luis Avilan, Jordan Walden, Cristhian Martinez, Cory Gearrin and Varvaro; infielders Andrelton Simmons, Freddie Freeman, Dan Uggla, Francisco, Johnson and Ramiro Pena; outfielders Heyward, the Uptons, Reed Johnson and Jordan Schafer, and catchers Laird and Gattis.
Also on the DL: catcher Brian McCann and infielder Paul Janish, each recovering from shoulder surgery, and pitcher Brandon Beachy, recovering from elbow surgery.