7/22/2014 12:42 A.M. ET
Bethancourt proves worthy of role, just not yet
By Mark Bowman and Joe Morgan / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- As long as his back cooperates, Evan Gattis will continue serving as the Braves' primary catcher. But Christian Bethancourt spent the past three weeks giving the organization confidence that he is ready to assume that role when necessary.
"This guy is going to be our catcher of the future," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of Bethancourt. "He's just going to have to wait his turn, which is probably hard for young players to [understand]. But he was very impressive defensively, and I thought he got better offensively."
Bethancourt's first true Major League stint came to a close on Monday, when he was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett to create a roster spot for Gattis, who had been sidelined since June 27 with a bulging thoracic disk in his back.
While the Braves are hoping to be able to rely on Gattis' power throughout the remainder of the season, they are well aware of the fact that back injuries can prove bothersome for many players, especially those who are subjected to the frequent squatting requirements of a catcher.
Even if Gattis makes it through this season without any further problems, there is reason to wonder if the Braves will look to trade him during the winter to an American League club that would have the luxury to use him as a designated hitter when he is not handling the catching duties.
With that in mind, the Braves are at least comforted by what they saw out of Bethancourt, who hit .240 (12-for-50) and lived up to his billing of being an above-average defender. Though, he did not throw out any of the six runners who tried to steal against him, the 22-year-old strong-armed backstop did show off his arm strength when he denied Jimmy Rollins' bid to advance to second base on a dropped third strike on Friday night.
"He made it look easier than what it really was," Gonzalez said of that particular play. "To come up and make a nice strong accurate throw was impressive. I think he's going to be catching a lot of games for us in our future."
Gattis gets right back in the action off disabled list
ATLANTA -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez wasted no time putting Evan Gattis back in the lineup once the club activated the slugger from the disabled list on Monday afternoon and optioned fellow catcher Christian Bethancourt to Triple-A Gwinnett.
Gattis hit sixth against the Marlins on Monday night, making his first appearance for Atlanta since he first felt the effects of a bulging thoracic disk in his back on June 27. After catching 12 innings and going 3-for-16 with Gwinnett, Gattis is ready.
"I had a couple of bad at-bats, but it got better each day," Gattis said. "But my back was fine from Day 1. I'd like to get some knocks of course, but back felt good."
Gattis received an epidural injection on July 1 as part of his recovery process and played four games on his rehab assignment without any pain or discomfort. However, he is not sure how long the effects of the epidural shot will last.
"I don't really know, but I've heard, I think there's mixed reviews," Gattis said. "I think some people say it works for a small time, but some people say a couple of weeks, you kind of, your body's still responding to it. So, I'm not really sure about that, but I feel great."
Gonzalez said in Spring Training he wanted to keep Gattis on a schedule that would have him catch 100 games in his first Major League season as a starter and plans to keep Gattis on a similarly moderated schedule moving forward.
"Now, it's up to me to manage it a little bit," Gonzalez said. "Maybe catch him two days in a row and give him a day off and do it like we did early on and get him back in the swing of things, but there's no hesitation."
Gonzalez addresses Upton's effort on grounder
ATLANTA -- Justin Upton grounded out to second base in the bottom of the eighth inning Monday night despite Jordany Valdespin bobbling the ball.
Had Upton been running faster, he may have reached base with a one-out single in a 1-1 ballgame.
"I don't think [he would have been safe], but that's not the way we play the game," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I'm going to mention something to him about that."
The Braves went on to lose, 3-1, in 10 innings.
Medlen, trainers to share PLAY message with youth
ATLANTA -- As Kris Medlen make his way back from Tommy John surgery in March, health is on his mind. He, along with Braves trainers Jeff Porter and Jim Lovell, will share that focus with others by teaming up with the Taylor Hooton Foundation in a National PLAY Campaign event on Tuesday morning at Turner Field.
The Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society (PBATS) created PLAY (Promoting a Lifetime of Activity for Youth) in 2004 as a way to raise awareness of pediatric health issues and to confront the obesity epidemic in the United States. Since its inception, PLAY has held more than 150 events in all 30 Major League ballparks to teach tens of thousands of children about the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
In May of this year, PBATS teamed up with The Arc, a nonprofit with the goal of promoting the protection and inclusion of individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities, to broaden the scope of PLAY worldwide. The Arc advocates for people with diagnoses including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and others.
"We are thrilled about this partnership with The Arc," PBATS president Mark O'Neal said in a statement from PBATS. "This is a great platform to spread the message of inclusion and to afford children with disabilities the opportunity to participate in the PLAY Campaign and spend a day at their favorite Major League ballpark."
PLAY Campaign events usually last two hours and feature various stations led by athletic training professionals from across the country. For the first time this year, children with and without disabilities will participate alongside one another.
The event runs from 10:30 a.m. to noon ET.