9/2/2014 7:30 P.M. ET
Bethancourt provides reliable option behind plate
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- Now that he has completed a successful season with Triple-A Gwinnett, Christian Bethancourt will spend the regular season's final month attempting to help the Braves reach the postseason. The highly regarded catching prospect rejoined Atlanta's expanded roster as he celebrated his 23rd birthday on Tuesday.
With three legit catchers -- Evan Gattis, Gerald Laird and Bethancourt -- on a roster that also includes Ryan Doumit, who could catch in emergency situations, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez will have the comfort to pinch-hit and double switch his catchers in situations that he might not have earlier this season. But at the same time, he has the challenge to figure out how much time Laird and Bethancourt will get while serving as Gattis' backups.
"We'll see how that materializes," Gonzalez said. "Off the top of my head, I'm not going to say Gattis catches three [games], Bethancourt one and Laird is off the chart. But there is a luxury to having three guys. You can do a little bit out of that position."
As Gattis has hit just .237 with a .300 on-base percentage since returning from a back injury on July 21, there has been reason to wonder if he is providing enough offensively to make up for his defensive deficiencies. But Gattis has at least helped his cause, belting four home runs in his last 47 at-bats entering Tuesday.
Bethancourt undoubtedly stands as the better defensive option, and he showed this when he served as Atlanta's starting catcher while Gattis spent the first few weeks of July on the disabled list. But it's the offensive strides he has made over the past two years that have created speculation that Bethancourt could become the Braves' starting catcher as soon as next year.
This possibility would obviously hinge on whether Atlanta trades Gattis this winter. But Bethancourt has at least provided motivation to evaluate this option.
"[Bethancourt's] development is pretty much done," Gonzalez said. "From what I saw from him playing up here earlier this year, defensively, his development is ready to go. Offensively, there will be some adjustments, just like with everybody else."
When Bethancourt produced a sub-.300 on-base percentage for Class A Advanced Lynchburg in 2011 and again for Double-A Mississippi in '12, there were concerns about his offensive development. But the late bloomer hit .277 with a .305 OBP during his second season with Mississippi, and then followed that up by hitting .285 with a .308 OBP for Gwinnett.
"Everything comes with time," Bethancourt said. "You've just got to be patient. They've been telling me, 'You've just got to trust yourself.'"
Carpenter, Braves support Strike Out Cancer initiative
ATLANTA -- Braves reliever David Carpenter was one of the many Major Leaguers who took time on Tuesday to support Cardinals reliever Jason Motte's Strike Out Cancer campaign. Having had the pleasure of knowing Motte for nearly a decade, Carpenter said this is a genuine initiative started by a man who has always had a very charitable heart.
"From just getting a chance to know what kind of person Jason is, this is just how he operates," Carpenter said. "He is a very proactive guy, especially with kids. That's one of his soft spots. To see something he started grow to all 30 teams is just great to see."
While recovering from Tommy John surgery during the 2013 season, Motte took advantage of the chance to spend time helping others. He designed T-shirts that are adorned with a backward K over top of the word 'Cancer.' A short time later, he decided to make 30 different T-shirts to represent the color of each team.
Craig Kimbrel, Carpenter and the rest of the Atlanta bullpen were among the Braves seen wearing the T-shirts before Tuesday night's game against the Phillies. At the same time, members of other Major League clubs also took time on Tuesday to recognize this endeavor in a similar manner.
When the Cardinals had Motte make the transition from catcher to pitcher in 2006, he was sent to Class A State College, where Carpenter was beginning his first professional season as a catcher. The two developed a friendship that was strengthened when Carpenter also made the transition from catcher to pitcher two years later.
"How he treated me and how he treats a lot of the people [with whom] he comes in contact, he's just one of the best in this game," Carpenter said. "It was great to see him use his down time to start something like this and bring the awareness that he has brought with the 'K Cancer' logo."
The website 108 Stitches went live on March 17, showcasing the "Strike Out Cancer" tees in each team's colors. Each is promoted by a different player who agreed to join Motte in a partnership that will benefit multiple charities. Each participating player has chosen a charity that will benefit from the T-shirts sales, and for each shirt sold, $5 will go to the Jason Motte Foundation and $5 to a charity of that player's choice. A full list of recipient charities will be listed on the 108 Stitches website soon, along with a photo of each player rep in his team-colored shirt.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.