03/14/2013 4:59 PM ET
Gattis' bat, improving defense keeps him in mix
By Matthew Leach / MLB.com
JUPITER, Fla. -- All Evan Gattis does is hit. Actually, that's not fair. Gattis has done more than hit this spring, and that's why he's still very much in the conversation for a roster spot when the Braves break camp.
Gattis, 26, served as the Braves' starting catcher on Friday and singled in three at-bats. That continued an excellent spring at the plate for the right-handed hitter. He improved to 14-for-32 (.438) for the spring with two home runs, 10 RBIs and eight runs scored.
He's also held his own behind the plate and in the outfield. And with little doubt that Gattis can hit -- he slugged .607 over three Minor League levels last year -- the biggest question is his defense.
"About average," manager Fredi Gonzalez said when asked about Gattis' performance in the field. "Better than average, really. I thought behind the plate he's handled himself great. Left field, I don't know how many innings he's played out there, but he's fine. And obviously his bat is his bat."
Gonzalez said there absolutely could be a spot for Gattis on the Opening Day roster. Gattis' bat is difficult to ignore.
"When you put a guy [in the lineup], you know you're going to give him four at-bats," Gonzalez said. "You don't know if the ball is ever going to get hit to him. [So] play him. Then you've got a lead or whatever, you figure something out defensively."
Improved location has Minor optimistic
JUPITER, Fla. -- Mike Minor was cruising. Then he wasn't.
Minor held the Cardinals to one hit and one walk over the first four innings of Atlanta's 5-4 loss on Friday, but then saw the game get away from him in a four-run fifth. The first four batters of the inning reached base, and although some of the hits weren't crushed, it was not a good inning for the young lefty.
Overall, though, Minor considered the outing a success.
"I was locating a little bit better," Minor said.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez was actually somewhat pleased that Minor had the tough inning. There's value, he said, in working through something like that at this point in the spring. Minor finished with 88 pitches, 58 of the strikes.
"I think today is going to benefit him for the next one," Gonzalez said. "He got himself in a little trouble there in the fifth inning, and you've got to get through it. He'll be better off for it next time.
"You like to see some adversity in Spring Training. Because you're going to face that during the season. It could've been very easy for [pitching coach] Roger [McDowell] and I to take him out of the game, only go 45 pitches. But we needed to get his pitch count up and get him through those innings."
Medlen fine after getting hit by batted ball
JUPITER, Fla. -- Braves pitcher Kris Medlen checked out fine on Thursday, a day after he was hit in the right arm by a batted ball. Manager Fredi Gonzalez said that Medlen experienced no significant ill effects as of Thursday morning.
"Medlen is fine," Gonzalez said. "We got a report around 9:30 or so, and he's fine. Just a little bruise back there. We don't expect him to miss any time or anything."
Medlen was hit in the fifth inning of Atlanta's Thursday night game against the Marlins. He expressed minimal concern after the game and took the bus back to the Orlando area that night.
• Catcher Matt Kennelly had a "blood blister" on his right hand, but nothing more serious after being hit by a pitch when he tried to bunt on Wednesday night, manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
• Outfielders Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton, Justin Upton, and Reed Johnson, catcher Gerald Laird and pitchers Kris Medlen and Jonny Venters, were among the players scheduled to head back to Orlando rather than staying for the Braves' game Thursday against the Cardinals.
• Former NFL coach Bill Parcells and former NFL general manager Ron Wolf visited with the Braves prior to Wednesday night's game. Both men are residents of Palm Beach County.
Matthew Leach is a writer for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.