Tuesday night after Evan Gattis smashed a two-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against the Twins to tie the game, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez talked about his need to get Gattis into the line-up.
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“We’ve got to either figure out a way to get to the American League where we can play him more, or for me to figure out a way to play him someplace,” Gonzalez said.
Well, Gonzalez figured out away to get Gattis on the field with a creative move, and in the process killed two birds with one stone.
Gattis started in left field Saturday night, like he has done six other times this season, and as usual left fielder Justin Upton moved over to right field. So nothing out of the ordinary, there.
But here is where Gonzalez got creative.
Earlier in the season when Gattis played left, and Justin Upton moved to right, it was an easy move, ‘cause usual right fielder Jason Heyward was on the disabled list. But since Heyward is healthy, a Justin Upton move to right meant Heyward would be out of the line-up, right?
Well, not exactly.
Gonzalez decided to have Heyward play center field, and killed the second stone by benching regular center fielder B.J. Upton, who has been in a season long slump. This isn’t the first time that Gonzalez has moved Heyward over to center field, though. Heyward made his first career start in center last May against the Miami Marlins.
Here’s what Gonzalez had to say about Heyward playing center against the Marlins last season.
“We did it in spring training,” Gonzalez said. “He played six or seven games in center field. He’s athletic. He can do it. I think he likes it.”
So not an entirely unique move by Gonzalez, but creative in the sense that baseball is a “by the book”, conservative business.