8/20/2014 12:23 A.M. ET
Gattis wows teammates with monster blast
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Evan Gattis has caused a number of jaws to drop while displaying his incredible raw power during batting practice the past couple of years. But as evidenced during Tuesday night's 11-3 win over the Pirates at PNC Park, the strong Braves catcher has also occasionally displayed his incredible pop in the midst of a game.
Gattis' monstrous home run off Brandon Cumpton to begin the ninth inning will be one that Braves players and fans will remember for many years. The towering blast hit a quarter of the way up the facade of the circular walkway located behind the left-field foul pole.
"That was a joke," outfielder Justin Upton said. "He hammered that one."
Jason Heyward, who has watched Gattis tally 40 home runs through the first 718 plate appearances of his career, also marveled at the formidable power that was displayed after Cumpton made the ill-fated mistake of hanging a slider to a 6-foot-4, 260-pound beast.
"That was fun to see," Heyward said. "You know what kind of pop he has. That was one of those you didn't know when it was going to come down or where. You know he's got the pop, but it always amazes you when he gets a hold of one."
Fredi turning to bench players more regularly
PITTSBURGH -- As he has seen his pinch-hitters prove to be significantly less productive than last year, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has shouldered some of the blame, saying that he has not has gotten his bench players the consistent playing time necessary to remain prepared for pinch-hit opportunities.
Some of this has had to do with the limited defensive talents possessed by Ryan Doumit, whose attempt to serve as the Braves' primary pinch-hitter has only highlighted the fact that his skill set is likely best served in the American League.
But while Doumit provides limited defensive versatility, Gonzalez has gained more flexibility over the past month with the additions of two talented utility men -- Emilio Bonifacio and Phil Gosselin, both of whom have found themselves in the starting lineup more often than the average backup since their arrival.
In fact, Gosselin has seemingly knocked Tommy La Stella out of his role as the club's everyday second baseman. Including Tuesday night's game against the Pirates, Gosselin has started three of the past four contests at second base.
"I'm looking to get Gosselin involved somehow, someway in a game, and the same thing with [Bonifacio]," Gonzalez said. "If there is a situation where you can double-switch and leave him in a game, you feel like he could do a decent job."
Bonifacio has started nine of the 16 games the Braves have played since he was acquired from the Cubs on July 31. Four of those starts have come in center field, and three others were made at shortstop while Andrelton Simmons was dealing with a left ankle sprain.
While some fans have clamored for Bonifacio to be used as the primary center fielder, Gonzalez has provided every indication that he plans to continue utilizing B.J. Upton in that role. After batting .185 with a .587 OPS last year, Upton entered Tuesday hitting .207 with a .606 OPS in 116 games this season.
"You keep running him out there, you see the good at-bats and the good attitude -- he's not defeated," Gonzalez said. "So you stay in his corner and keep plugging away."
• Gonzalez said Shae Simmons will make at least one more rehab appearance for Triple-A Gwinnett before being brought back to Atlanta's bullpen.
The Braves were toying with the idea of promoting Simmons by Wednesday. But that was before the rookie right-hander allowed four earned runs without recording an out for Gwinnett on Tuesday. Simmons has been sidelined since July 24 with a right shoulder strain.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.