COMMENTARY | The Atlanta Braves have been fortunate to have a great group of catchers come through the organization over the years. Brian McCann has fulfilled that role for the past eight years now and will continue to do so once he is healthy.
The latest report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on March 8 noted McCann is still focused on coming back in the middle of April despite feeling good during batting practice. McCann said the last hurdle he has to get over is his throwing.
So with the former All-Star set to miss the first two weeks of the season, the Braves will be looking for someone to step up and fill the position.
In the offseason, the Braves signed veteran catcher Gerald Laird to fulfill those duties, but 26-year-old Evan Gattis is making his case to become the Braves' primary backup and starter entering opening day.
Gattis got a lot of work in the winter playing in the Venezuelan League, where he hit 16 home runs in 195 at-bats with a .303 average. That success has continued in spring training as he's currently hitting .378 with two home runs in 37 at-bats, as of March 20.
He didn't start playing professional baseball until he was 23 and has yet to register an at-bat above Double-A, but I don't think that keeps the Braves from giving him a chance. The only question is whether or not he can call a game from behind the plate and be an adequate defensive catcher.
When McCann returns from his injury, Gattis could stay on the team as a fourth outfielder. He played 37 games in left field during the 2012 season.
The Braves have never shied away from giving a player a chance -- and it's not like Gattis is a young guy. If he continues to impress the last few weeks of spring training, he'll almost certainly break camp with the team and be given a few opportunities at the start of the season.
Jake Mastroianni has written for several websites pertaining to the Braves and baseball in general. He also has experience working in media relations for minor league baseball, as well as at the collegiate level.
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