5/21/2014 12:36 A.M. ET
Patience a virtue for Braves' bats of late
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Two games does not erase all of the frustration that built over this season's first two months, but after watching his offense total 15 runs over the previous two days, Braves hitting coach Greg Walker returned to Turner Field on Tuesday feeling better about the mindset of his position players.
"I think we got to the point where we started fighting the other team, instead of ourselves," Walker said.
The Braves tallied six runs in Sunday's comeback win over the Cardinals, and then erupted for nine runs during Monday's win over the Brewers. They had not scored more than five runs since April 19, and had only done so seven times before Sunday.
Maybe more telling was the fact that they had entered Sunday having scored less than three runs in 11 of their previous 18 games.
"We were in our own heads," Walker said. "We were beating ourselves because we're frustrated. When you've got a bunch of guys that are frustrated, it doesn't matter what kind of swing you have or how talented you are."
Walker shoulders the blame for allowing the frustration to fester as long as it did. But while drawing nine walks in the previous nine innings they had played entering Tuesday, the Braves have at least shown a willingness to begin showing the increased patience their hitting coach has been preaching on a daily basis over the past couple of weeks. They had drawn nine walks in the 44 innings that preceded Sunday's ninth inning, during which a two-out walk and a wild pitch proved decisive.
Along with drawing more walks, many of the Braves players have spent the past couple of days showing a willingness to hit the ball to all fields. Freddie Freeman hit an opposite-field home run on Sunday and another on Monday. Justin Upton went the other way with his eighth-inning homer on Monday, and Jason Heyward began Monday's three-hit game with an opposite-field single.
"That's how the swing works," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You catch it a little bit late, you go opposite [field]. If you catch it a little bit earlier, you pull it or go straightaway. That's always a good sign when you're hitting the ball the other way."
Laird a last-minute replacement for ill Gattis
ATLANTA -- Approximately 10 minutes before Tuesday's first pitch was thrown, Gerald Laird was in the Braves' clubhouse joking with many of his teammates and assuming that Evan Gattis was in the bullpen preparing his catching duties.
But Laird's peaceful preparations were abruptly halted when first-base coach Terry Pendleton ran into the clubhouse and alerted the backup catcher that he had been pressed into a starting role, because Gattis had started to feel sick while warming up Julio Teheran in the bullpen.
"I was just sitting around bull crapping with the team, joking around and getting ready for the game," Laird said. "TP [Pendleton] came running up here, and I thought he was kidding. I was like, 'You're kidding.' He said, 'Nope.' Talk about panic mode. He was in panic mode."
Fortunately, Laird remained calm as he rushed out to catch a few of Teheran's final warm-up pitches.
The sudden change in catchers certainly did not affect Teheran, who tossed his second career shutout in Tuesday night's 5-0 win over the Brewers.
"That's part of my role," Laird said. "As a bench player, you have to be ready to go at any point in the game. You can't complain. You just have to go in there and get it done."
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he expects Gattis to be available to return to the lineup within the next couple of days.
Walden out until mid-June; Venters throwing again
ATLANTA -- It appears Jordan Walden's strained left hamstring will keep him sidelined through at least the first half of June. But the Braves received some encouraging bullpen-related news on Tuesday when Jonny Venters learned that he will likely be throwing off a mound again this weekend.
Though he was eligible to be activated from the disabled list on Tuesday, Walden is still at least a couple weeks away from being cleared to throw off a mound again. Thus, it will be a while before the veteran right-handed reliever gains a chance to see how his hamstring reacts to his violent delivery, which places a lot of stress on his left leg.
"Especially with his delivery, that left leg is very important because it's the one he lands on," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "So, we've got to make sure that's right because if it's not, that's what could lead to something else."
It is still too early to estimate when Venters might be cleared to return from his second Tommy John surgery. But the veteran reliever did receive some encouragement on Monday night when Dr. Gary Lourie examined his left elbow and informed him that the discomfort he felt last week was a product of a minor strain in his flexor muscle.
"He said my elbow looks as good as he's ever seen it over the past couple of years," Venters said. "I'm excited about what he told me and I'm looking forward to getting back on the mound.
Venters completed a pain-free bullpen session at the Braves Spring Training facility in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., last week, but he felt discomfort less than 10 minutes later as he attempted to throw to batters for just the second time this year in live batting practice.
• Tyler Pastornicky has been sidelined since he strained his left calf during Saturday afternoon's game against the Cardinals. But Gonzalez said he expects Pastornicky to resume his role as the club's starting second baseman by Friday.
• The Braves had not tallied more than four runs in an inning this season before plating five during Monday night's eighth inning. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Angels are now the only team that has not scored at least five runs in an inning this year. Last year, Atlanta scored five runs or more in an inning 15 times -- the National League's second-highest total.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.