The Evan Gattis story keeps on getting better. With the Braves struggling to put together any kind of offensive threat against Dodgers starter Chris Capuano, trailing 1-0 heading into the eighth, Evan Gattis provided a pinch-hit two-run home run against reliever Kenley Jansen to give the Braves the 2-1 lead and eventually the win.
A catcher by trade, Gattis was bumped down on the depth chart when Brian McCann returned from the DL after dealing with a shoulder injury. The Braves have tried to find a spot in the lineup for Gattis by slotting him in at first base and, more recently, left field when he isn’t riding the pine. The 26-year-old entered the night with seven home runs in 126 trips to the plate, the Braves’ best power threat thus far behind Justin Upton.
The Gattis story is quite interesting — he was a college baseball bust battling substance abuse, taking various odd jobs across the country, including working in a pizza parlor, as a parking valet, as a ski-lift operator, and as a janitor. He got the itch to play baseball again, earning a spot with the University of Texas of the Permian Basin team. He hit .403 with 11 home runs, which was good enough to merit a selection in the 23rd round of the 2010 draft by the Braves. Gattis quickly moved his way up the ladder and, with McCann on the sidelines throughout spring, earned a spot on the big league roster going into the 2013 season.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better redemption story, and even harder-pressed not to be happy for what Gattis is accomplishing on the field.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.