6/18/2014 6:10 P.M. ET
Early homer pushes Gattis' hit streak to 17
By Joe Morgan / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Evan Gattis wasted no time extending his hitting streak to 17 games, the longest active stretch in the Majors.
The Braves' catcher drilled a two-run homer off Phillies starter Roberto Hernandez in the first inning of Wednesday's series finale, tying the score at 2.
Gattis was given a night of rest on Tuesday despite hitting .406 with seven home runs and a 1.246 on-base plus slugging percentage in the first 16 games of his streak. His run stands as the longest produced by a catcher in Braves history.
Checkup shows Venters' elbow is on track
ATLANTA -- The ulnar collateral ligament in Braves reliever Jonny Venters' surgically repaired left elbow was deemed sound after he received an MRI exam and met with Dr. James Andrews.
Venters has not thrown since receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection a week ago, and he will be shut down for another three to five weeks as the shot takes effect.
"Everything's good," Venters said. "I'm just going to take some time and let that ligament mature a little more and start throwing here in a little bit."
Although Venters hopes he'll be able to throw again in four weeks rather than six, he is mainly relieved the recent soreness he experienced -- even after rest -- was not something more serious.
"I was a little worried because it wasn't feeling much better after a week of rest," Venters said. "Once he looked at the MRI and said ... everything's good in there, I felt better."
The Atlanta bullpen's recent woes are not lost on Venters, who has endured frustration since undergoing Tommy John surgery early last year. The southpaw wants to help his club, but he also has to keep his long-term health in mind.
"It's tough, because I want to pitch and I want to help this team and I want to get out there as soon as possible -- and that's what I'm going to do," Venters said. "I think that's best for my career. … Whenever it's ready, it's ready. Hopefully, it'll be sooner than later."
La Stella bumped to leadoff, Heyward to fifth
ATLANTA -- On Wednesday, for the first time since last July 27, a healthy Jason Heyward did not bat leadoff for the Braves. Manager Fredi Gonzalez decided to bat rookie Tommy La Stella atop the order and bump Heyward down to the fifth spot.
Although La Stella finished 0-for-4 with a walk, posting only his fifth hitless performance in 19 Major League games, the Braves tallied five runs in a 10-5 loss to the Phillies and Heyward reached base three times across four plate appearances in the heart of the order.
When Gonzalez approached Heyward about the lineup change, the outfielder simply told his skipper, "Whatever you want. Whatever you want me to do."
"I think the world of Jason Heyward," Gonzalez said. "I think that he can hit anywhere in the lineup and be productive, and so that's the reason he's hitting fifth, right behind [Evan] Gattis. And Tommy's a guy, I've been watching him over 15 games or so, 17 games. He [may not be] a base stealer or a base burner, but I think he runs the bases well enough. I put him out there in the leadoff spot to do his thing. He doesn't have to change anything in his approach. He's got a good eye at the plate and is going to put the ball in play."
La Stella's first career game in the leadoff spot came on a day when Atlanta held B.J. Upton, Justin Upton and Andrelton Simmons out of the starting lineup to rest. But Gonzalez may not be so quick to bump La Stella back down when those three return as the Braves hit the road for an 11-game road trip beginning Thursday.
Although Wednesday ended in defeat, Atlanta plated five runs on nine hits with three regulars out of the lineup. If La Stella continues to rake at his current clip -- he is batting .343 (24-for-66) with a .410 on-base percentage -- the young second baseman could potentially spend more time in the No. 1 spot.
"You know me; I don't do things [as a] just knee-jerk reaction, so I may," Gonzalez said. "We'll see how it goes today, and then when you plug in B.J. tomorrow and you plug Simmons in there tomorrow and you plug in Justin again there tomorrow, we'll see how the dynamic of that lineup works."
Meanwhile, Gonzalez is hopeful that Heyward's recent tear in the batter's box might help jolt an offense that has struggled to consistently score runs. Heyward is batting .297 (43-for-145) with six homers and a .378 OBP since May 10.
"He's been productive in the leadoff spot for almost 100 games," Gonzalez said. "But then we also hit two years ago -- 2011 or maybe 2012, he hit third and was productive in the three-spot. He's a special guy, so we'll see how it goes."
Day after dizziness, J-Up rests
ATLANTA -- Braves outfielder Justin Upton did not play in Wednesday afternoon's 10-5 loss to the Phillies at Turner Field, but he was available to come off the bench after exiting Tuesday night's 5-2 loss with dizziness and lightheadedness.
"Obviously, I want to be out there with the guys, but if I'm not feeling right and I can't help the team, it's better to have somebody out there 100 percent," Upton said. "[I feel] a little bit off, and my strength's a little bit down, but other than that, I feel pretty good."
Although Upton's status for Thursday's game in Washington, D.C., remains up in the air, the outfielder does not think that his current predicament will be a long-term issue.
"It's kind of an isolated thing," Upton said. "I guess we'll see how long it lingers, but for the most part, I'm hoping I can get back to myself in the next couple of days."
In-park balloting at Turner Field for the 2014 All-Star Game ended on Wednesday, the final contest of the Braves' six-game homestand. However, fans can still cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET.
As of the latest ballot update, released on Sunday, three Atlanta players rank among the top five vote-getters at their positions. Justin Upton, who ranks ninth among outfielders, has had the most ballots cast in his name among Braves players (1,003,943).
Freddie Freeman is the closest to earning a starting spot, as he ranks third at first base behind Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt by roughly 370,000 votes.
Joe Morgan is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.