9/8/2013 5:31 P.M. ET
Downs says he won't be slowed by broken finger
By Paul Hagen / MLB.com
PHILADELPHIA -- Scott Downs said Sunday morning he didn't want to miss any more time than necessary after fracturing the tip of the ring finger of his non-pitching right hand attempting to field a comebacker off the bat of Chase Utley on Saturday night.
Fredi Gonzalez went so far as to say that he wouldn't rule out using Downs in Sunday's series finale against the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
"I'm not counting him out," the manager said before the game. "I probably won't use [Luis Avilan] today. That would be three in a row, the last two nights in one-run games. But I think Downsie may be fine. What are the chances of him using his glove on a comebacker? And if he's using a splint, it's not going to make it any worse.
"I'll bet we've all had broken toes and gotten through it. The biggest thing is when he takes his hand out of his glove to rub up the ball. He goes, 'I don't rub it up that much.' The umpires may come out and say, 'Hey, what have you got on your finger.' But before we get to that point, I'll take him into the umpire's room and say, 'Hey, this guy has a chance to pitch with a splint. I want you to take a look at it.' If he's OK, he's available. It's up to him."
Downs and Avilan are the only two left-handers in the Braves' bullpen. As it turned out, though, neither was needed in what became a 3-2 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park.
Downs said he still isn't sure how a ball hitting the outside of his glove could break his finger.
"I have no clue. I even went back and looked at film to try to figure out if it hit the back of my glove," he said. "I have no clue. I just know that when it hit my glove, it got really warm. Almost like it exploded, or whatever. After the play, when I took the glove off, I didn't know it was broken. It swelled up a little bit.
"If I'm going to break a finger I'd rather have it be on that hand, as opposed to my throwing hand. I don't expect much of a delay. It's just going to be a matter of pain tolerance. I can squeeze a little bit. I can move it around. I wish I knew it would be today, tomorrow, whatnot. But we'll just see how the treatment goes and go from there. I'm not missing a lot, no. It's not in my nature just to sit back and watch. I'll do whatever I can."
Gattis clubs Majors' longest homer this year
PHILADELPHIA -- The Braves only had two hits in their 3-2 loss to the Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on Sunday. Both were home runs by Evan Gattis. And the first one was so impressive, was hit so hard, that it remained a big topic of conversation in the clubhouse afterward even though it didn't prevent first-place Atlanta from being swept.
Even Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels, who served it up, was impressed.
"I felt like I was throwing a golf ball out there and he had a driver," said Hamels. "He's probably going to be in that strongest-man competition at the end of the year. Definitely going to vote on him, because he'll win. It was impressive."
Estimating the distance of batted balls is notoriously unreliable. Probably the most accurate yardstick is the ESPN Home Run Tracker, which had it at 486 feet. That's both the longest homer hit in the Major Leagues this year and the longest in the 10-year history of the Bank.
Gattis hit another one off Hamels in the seventh, the first multiple-homer game of his career. And he might have hit a third but his fly ball to dead center in the fifth was caught at the base of the wall.
"I think the wind just kicked up at the right time. I thought that ball had a chance, too," said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez.
Added Gattis: "I thought I hit it well enough to get off the wall, at least, but maybe the wind knocked it down or something. But I felt like I put a good swing on that ball as well."
Gattis was surprised when told there hadn't been a longer homer this season.
"Yeah, I have figured somebody would have hit one further. [Miami's Giancarlo] Stanton or somebody like that. But it only counts as one. And we lost the game. So I'm ready to get after them in Miami."
Hamels had retired the first four batters he faced before Gattis nailed a 92-mph, 1-0 fastball. It carried over the fence, over the Ashburn Alley concourse and off the fronting of the open air Budweiser Roof Top, where fans can stand and watch the game in front of them with the Center City skyline at their backs.
Fredi not yet thinking about playoff rotation
PHILADELPHIA -- The Braves have the National League's best record. Their magic number going into Monday's series at Marlins Park is nine.
Still, veteran baseball people know better than to take anything for granted. Which is why manager Fredi Gonzalez insists he hasn't even thought about lining up his pitching in anticipation of the National League Division Series.
"Until they put one of those letters next to your name, then you worry about that," Gonzalez said with a laugh. "I'm a believer that there are still a lot of baseball games left to be played. I don't even let myself think about it, let the guard down."
Gonzalez conceded, however, that he and pitching coach Roger McDowell have already "tinkered" the rotation by trying to get a little extra rest for Mike Minor and Julio Teheran.
"I think if you have the flexibility, you kind of try to deal with it that way," he said.
• With Justin Upton getting a day off, shortstop Andrelton Simmons, whose ninth-inning homer tied Saturday night's game, moved up to second in the batting order for the 19th time this year.
"Just to get a bat up there," Gonzalez said. "I think the best is still way ahead of him. It's just a matter of experience and maturity. He's just going to keep getting better and better, in my view of him. Defensively, he's reached that. Offensively I still think there's much, much more. Because hitters improve with more at-bats at the Major League level."
Simmons went hitless in four at-bats.
• First baseman Freddie Freeman appeared to be limping after running into the fence trying to catch Kevin Frandsen's foul popup that drifted into the seats in the eighth inning.
"I think he just banged it up a little bit. He's fine. It's just one of those things I think we're going to have to manage a little bit and hopefully down the road here we can give him a couple days. But nothing major," said Gonzalez.
• Catcher Gerald Laird is a big USC fan. So, naturally, after the Trojans were upset by Washington State on Saturday, first baseman Freddie Freeman had the Cougars fight song cued up on the clubhouse stereo and cranked it up as soon as Laird walked into the clubhouse Sunday morning.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.