Braves rookie slugger Evan Gattis was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique muscle, an injury he sustained on a swing in the seventh inning of Monday’s 2-1 win against the Mets, which ended at 1:22 a.m. because of a lengthy rain delay before the first pitch.
“It was just an awkward swing on a slider,” Gattis said Tuesday morning. “I was trying to check the swing, and it just grabbed me on my right side, my right oblique. I didn’t think I could hit again. Catching I was loose, warm, and adrenaline and everything going. I just didn’t think I could swing again.”
Gattis didn’t try to swing again. He struck out looking in that seventh-inning at-bat, then caught the eighth and ninth innings. Catcher Brian McCann was on-deck ready to hit for him in the ninth when Freddie Freeman hit a game-ending two-run homer.
“This morning waking up, I’m glad I didn’t (swing again),” he said, “just because the way it felt this morning — it was a lot more sore.”
The Braves recalled infielder Tyler Pastornicky from Triple-A Gwinnett to take Gattis’ roster spot, and Pastornicky suited up for Tuesday’s doubleheader against the Mets.
Gattis has become a Paul Bunyan-esque folk hero in his first major league season, batting .252 and leading major league rookie by wide margins in home runs (14) and RBIs (37). He’s played some in left field and first base in addition to catching, and as pinch-hitter, he’s a remarkable 6-for-8 with a double, four homers and 11 RBIs.
There had been speculation that Gattis might be asked to participate in the Home Run Derby during the All-Star festivities next month in Kansas City, but this injury would presumably end any chance of that happening.
Rain ramifications: The reason Braves officials and umpires waited nearly four hours through a rain delay Monday night was the same reason some Braves players contacted the players’ union Monday night — concerns over the day-night doubleheader awaiting Tuesday.
“If we were just playing a night game today, it would have been a totally different situation,” Reed Johnson said Tuesday morning. “But we were just kind of concerned that we’ve got not only a day game, but possibly two tomorrow as well.”
Pending weather delays Tuesday night, the Braves were on schedule to play three games in less than 24 hours. Johnson said the players’ union never got back with anything further, and the players were satisfied that the game was played within the appropriate guidelines.
“At least we got a win and didn’t burn any extra people,” said Johnson, referring to the Braves’ 2-1 win after they got seven innings from starter Tim Hudson.
Kris Medlen offered cover Alex Wood’s innings out of the bullpen, if necessary, so Wood could go home and get some sleep before making his first major league start at 1:10 p.m. Tuesday. It would have been a side-session day for him. But pitching coach Roger McDowell told Medlen that wasn’t necessary. The Braves had Wood in the bullpen just in case more rain or extra innings force him into emergency duty. Then Paul Maholm would have pitched Game 1 of Tuesday’s doubleheader instead of Game 2, and the Braves would have called on a minor leaguer to start Tuesday night.
The Braves booked rooms at the downtown Ritz-Carlton for a few players and coaches who didn’t want to make long drives home to the suburbs. Manager Fredi Gonzalez slept on a couch in the closet that former manager Bobby Cox had built in the back of the manager’s office.
Early-morning good news: Pastornicky has been called up to the major leagues four times, but never before at 2:30 in the morning.
The Braves’ near four-hour rain delay Monday night, a 1:22 a.m. finish and a late-night decision to put Evan Gattis on the disabled list with an oblique strain, had Pastornicky’s cellphone ringing in the middle of the night in Buffalo, N.Y., where he was with Gwinnett.
“I was kind of groggy,” said Pastornicky, who also didn’t mind hearing the news from manager Randy Ready. “It was exciting.”
He caught a 6:15 a.m. flight to Atlanta on Tuesday, which was delayed. He slept maybe an hour or so on the flight and walked into the Braves clubhouse at about 10:30 a.m., duffel bag over his shoulder. He pinch hit in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader, grounding out in the sixth inning against Matt Harvey.
Pastornicky gives Gonzalez a player he knows can handle the bat. Pastornicky can play shortstop, second base and possibly the outfield, if needed. He came up as a shortstop, but the Braves have moved him to second base this season in Gwinnett and given him a couple of games in center field.
Pastornicky was hitting .309 for Gwinnett and .337 (30-for-89) in his past 21 games. He had an impressive spring in major league camp, hitting .375 (21-for-56) with three doubles, one triple, two home runs and 14 RBIs in 26 games.
“I know I can hit here,” said Pastornicky, who spent two weeks with the Braves in late April and early May after Jason Heyward underwent an emergency appendectomy. “I’ve proven I can hit here, so it’s getting up here and being comfortable and going out there and playing.”