2/13/2013 4:49 P.M. ET
Versatile Gattis could earn himself bench role
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez kept close watch as Evan Gattis was producing impressive numbers at the Minor League level last year. Now Gonzalez is approaching the Grapefruit League season, eagerly anticipating the chance to evaluate whether Gattis could help his bench this upcoming season.
Defensive concerns will likely prevent Gattis from being an everyday catcher at the Major League level. But his ability to play the position, combined with his power potential, makes him an interesting option for a bench role. The odds of him landing this role will increase if he proves he can play left field and first base during Spring Training.
"If it was up to our bench coach [Carlos Tosca], he'll play someplace every single day because he loves to see him hit," Gonzalez said. "So I'm sure I'll be getting tugged on the uniform with him asking, 'When we going to put Gattis in?'"
Gattis combined to hit .305 with 18 home runs and a .607 slugging percentage while primarily playing for Class A Advanced Lynchburg and Double-A Mississippi last year. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound slugger continued to impress when he hit . 303 with 16 home runs and a .595 slugging percentage in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Now the Braves have even more reason to find a position for the 26-year-old Gattis, who stopped playing baseball for four years before resuming his baseball career at age 23. Gattis began to transition from catcher to left fielder during the final two months of last season with Mississippi. He played some left field in Venezuela, but primarily was used as a designated hitter.
"I'll play anywhere and as many positions as I can," Gattis said. "I just want to be one of the eight [position players]."
While playing in Venezuela, Gattis said he received some assistance from teammate Gerardo Parra, the strong-armed D-backs outfielder who won a Gold Glove Award in 2011.
With Brian McCann expected to miss at least the season's first two weeks, Gattis could start the year as Atlanta's backup catcher. But to keep his bat more readily available off the bench, the Braves could choose to carry him as a third catcher, who would likely see more time at first base or in the outfield.
Fredi not pleased with absent Schafer, Pastornicky
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Most of the Braves' position players were in camp by Wednesday, one day ahead of their required report date. But manager Fredi Gonzalez made a point to say he wasn't happy that he hadn't yet seen Florida residents Jordan Schafer or Tyler Pastornicky, who will each come to camp trying to win a backup job.
Schafer, who lives approximately 30 minutes from the Braves' Spring Training complex, was claimed after the Astros placed him on waivers in November. Once Atlanta's top prospect, Schafer will likely battle with Jose Constanza for one of the final outfield spots.
"Schafer is probably having a tough time with his travel," Gonzalez said jokingly. "He's another one I'm going to grab. He only lives two exits up the road and I haven't seen him yet. But maybe he has a five-year deal with [general manager] Frank [Wren] that guarantees he will play center. Frank hasn't told me that Schafer has signed for five years and is guaranteed to get one of the three outfield spots."
When Pastornicky was the odds-on favorite to begin the 2012 season as Atlanta's starting shortstop, he arrived the day the Braves were staging their first full-squad workout. In his defense, he had spent the days leading up to camp working out with Jack Wilson in California.
But Gonzalez certainly has not overlooked the fact this is the second straight year Pastornicky has not been among the team's early arrivals. Pastornicky lives about two hours from the Braves' Spring Training complex.
"I think Pastornicky is going to hold out again this year," Gonzalez said. "I want to see what his excuse is."
Reed Johnson, who will begin the season as the Braves' fourth outfielder, arrived in camp in time to take batting practice with the starting outfielders -- Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton and Justin Upton -- on Wednesday. Johnson and his family drove 30-plus hours from his home in the Las Vegas area.
• Brandon Beachy is hoping to be cleared to begin throwing off of a mound by the end of next week. Beachy is going through the year-long rehab process that generally follows Tommy John surgery. He is hoping to be back in Atlanta's rotation by late June.
• All Braves' position players are required to report on Thursday. The team's first full-squad workout will be Friday.
• Chipper Jones is expected to arrive in camp on Friday and stay for approximately five days. The retired Jones will spend time interacting with his former teammates and providing any necessary assistance.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.