SAN FRANCISCO -- After giving Evan Gattis a chance to reacquaint himself with playing the outfield during this week's series in Cincinnati, the Braves had no reservations about putting the big rookie catcher back in left field for Saturday afternoon's game against the Giants.
"I think he's very instinctive," Braves bench coach Carlos Tosca said. "Somebody asked me the other day, 'Is this a catcher playing left field.' I said, 'No, he's an athletic guy playing left field, who happens to be able to catch.'"
Tosca, who served as the Braves' manager while Fredi Gonzalez attended his daughter's college graduation Saturday, has been one of Gattis' biggest supporters since first seeing the slugger's powerful swing in Spring Training last year.
Gattis achieved immediate success at the Major League level while serving as Atlanta's starting catcher throughout most of April. But now that six-time All-Star catcher Brian McCann has returned from offseason shoulder surgery, the Braves are attempting to find ways to continue benefitting from Gattis' offensive potential.
The Braves utilized Gattis as their left fielder during each of the three games played in Cincinnati earlier this week and then opted to keep him out of the lineup for the first two games of this weekend's four-game series against the Giants. This allowed Gattis a chance to get acquainted with the more cavernous AT&T Park's outfield during batting practice Thursday and Friday.
"I don't see any difference [between Cincinnati's outfield and San Francisco's]," Gattis said. "It's just bigger."
Gattis played 37 games in left field with Double-A Mississippi last year and then spent some time in the outfield while playing in the Venezuelan Winter League.
When right fielder Jason Heyward returns from the disabled list, it will be more difficult for the Braves to keep Gattis' bat in the lineup on a consistent basis.
To make room for Heyward on the active roster, the Braves could opt to go to a six-man bullpen or possibly trade veteran backup catcher Gerald Laird. The latter option would obviously allow Gattis to serve as McCann's primary backup.
Hot-hitting Uggla scuffles in return to two-hole
SAN FRANCISCO -- When the Braves opted to move Dan Uggla into the second spot of their lineup for the first two games of a series in Detroit, the veteran second baseman was still a week away from breaking out of his offensive funk.
After providing some encouraging signs over the past week, the Braves opted to put him back in the lineup's second spot for Saturday's game against the Giants. But the results proved to be quite similar as he struck out in each of his four at-bats and is now 0-for-11 with 10 strikeouts while in the two-hole this year.
Uggla entered Saturday having hit .346 (9-for-26) with two home runs and a .452 on-base percentage in his previous seven games. In the process, his batting average rose from .167 to .207.
"It's good when you start seeing him drive the ball to right-center field and start seeing him make consistent contact," Braves bench coach Carlos Tosca said before Saturday's game. "His posture looks a lot better at the plate. It's been a lot of fun to see what he has done the last week to 10 days."
The second spot in the lineup is not exactly foreign to Uggla, who primarily batted in that spot during his first two full Major League seasons. The lineup's fifth spot is the only one where he has tallied more at-bats during his career.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.