Atlanta Braves catcher Evan Gattis became a folk hero last season with his rags to riches story, mammoth home runs, late game heroics and engaging personality. With Brian McCann leaving for free agency, Gattis will be the Braves starting catcher and is expected to be a major force in the Braves line-up. Are the expectations for Gattis too high?
It was revealed that Gattis had surgery last October to remove a dime-sized bone chip from his right knee that had been bothering him since October 2006. He was brought along slowly in the spring and you have to wonder if there could be lingering effects.
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Most of the time I don’t worry about minor knee surgeries, those type procedures have become as simple as cutting your fingernails. But a red flag went up the other day when Fredi Gonzalez announced that Chris Johnson will be his clean-up hitter and Gattis will be hitting seventh behind Dan Uggla. Early in the spring, Gonzalez had stated that Gattis would be batting clean-up.
How do you go from being the clean-up hitter to hitting behind Uggla? How and why did that happen? Gattis hit only .204 in the spring with a .204 on-base-percentage and we all know that spring stats are not all that important. Has Fredi Gonzalez seen something he doesn’t like?
Gattis had a good first half last season, but slumped down the stretch. He needs to be more selective with the pitches he goes after to have a big year. I tend to think that he will make those adjustments, but I’m writing it in pencil until he shows that he is healthy once the real deal starts.