June 10, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; Atlanta Braves catcher Evan Gattis (24) prior to the game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Everyone’s favorite white bear has just gone down with an oblique injury. El Oso Blanco–formerly known as Evan Gattis–apparently strained his right oblique after a check swing in Monday night’s game. He is going to hit the 15-day disabled list to try and recover, moving Gerald Laird into the backup catcher spot. The Braves have recalled SS/2B/OF Tyler Pastornicky to the team to fill in for Gattis in the meantime.
Here is what MLB’s Mark Bowman has to say on the injury:
"Evan Gattis has grabbed the attention of the baseball world through the first two-plus months of his career. But the Braves’ backup catcher, who is widely known as El Oso Blanco (The White Bear), will be in hibernation for at least the next two weeks.Gattis was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Tuesday morning with a right oblique strain he suffered when he tried to check his swing during the seventh inning of Monday night’s 2-1 win over the Mets. The Braves recalled infielder Tyler Pastornicky from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill Gattis’ spot.“I guess it was just an awkward swing on a slider,” Gattis said. “I was trying to check the swing, and it just grabbed me on my right oblique.”Gattis continued to handle his defensive responsibilities while catching during the eighth and ninth innings. But he was not going to bat if Freddie Freeman had not ended the game with his walk-off home run off Dillon Gee in the ninth inning."
Hopefully, Gattis is able to recover fully before seeing time again and injuring himself even more. Oblique injuries normally aren’t too bad, but this could linger and nag if it hasn’t fully healed before he gets back in action.
Fortunately for the Braves, their third-string catcher is actually good enough to be a regular backup, and in Laird’s minimal playing time, he has performed well. In just 57 plate appearances this year, Laird has put up a triple slash of .271/.364/.375. He is batting sixth today (Tuesday) in the first game of a double header against the Mets.
I was surprised at first that the Braves decided to bring Tyler Pastornicky up, since Ramiro Pena can fill in as a back up shortstop/third baseman/second baseman, but he can have his uses–especially if Fredi Gonzalez is planning on using Pena as a starter more often. If that is the case, then Pastornicky can serve as a backup middle infielder and outfielder as well as being used as a pinch-runner when Jordan Schafer gets a start–just like he is doing on Tuesday.
In conclusion, while it hurts to lose your best pinch-hitter and backup catcher, the injury shouldn’t be a huge deal and the big bear should be back before you know it.