Tomahawk Chops: Evan Gattis Keeps Slugging, Braves Being Cautious With Eric O'Flaherty

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Exploring the hottest topics and latest trends in Braves Country.

The Braves' bats have come alive the past two days, scoring 16 runs in two wins over the Marlins and Nationals. A day after Jason Heyward and Justin Upton clubbed back-to-back homers, the Bravos cranked out 15 hits on Tuesday afternoon in a winning 9-5 effort over Washington.

In that win over the Nats, Evan Gattis continued to rake. He went 2-for-3 with a double and strikeout, raising his average to .556 through nine at-bats this spring.

It's pretty clear at this point that Gattis can hit Major League pitching. After tearing his way through the Minor Leagues, he hasn't missed a beat the first week of exhibition action.

The only question is where Gattis will play.

"He can hit. His bat is unbelievable. He can help anybody right now in the big leagues. It's about his position." - Eddie Perez

He has experience catching and playing the outfield, although his defensive abilities pale in comparison to what he can do at the plate. He's also spent some time at first base.

The problem for Gattis and the coaching staff is this: he isn't going to take plate appearances away from Jason Heyward or the Uptons, and unless Freddie Freeman really struggles against left-handed pitching, Gattis won't get starts at first.

And no, he can't play third base.

Gattis could see some time behind the plate, although Gerald Laird is likely the top candidate for the starter's job if Brian McCann needs more time to recover from shoulder surgery. If McCann is ready to go on Opening Day, Gattis probably begins the year in the minors.

If the Braves do elect to keep Gattis in Atlanta as a bench bat, they are taking away from his development. He'd only be getting a few at-bats each week, where as he could be starting every game at Double- or Triple-A. At the same time, his big bat in Gwinnett won't do much for the guys in Atlanta looking to win the National League East.

It'll be interesting to see how the situation plays out in the coming weeks. And now for some links...

Jordan Parraz's home run sparks five-run inning to sink Nats | braves.com: News
Jordan Parraz's leadoff home run fueled a five-run sixth inning that carried the Braves to a 9-5 win over the Nationals at Champion Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.

Braves remain cautious with O'Flaherty's back | braves.com: News
Eric O'Flaherty's previous battles with a sore back have led the Braves to keep him out of Grapefruit League games until next week. This decision was influenced by the fact that the exhibition season includes one extra week this year because of the World Baseball Classic.

Braves' Gattis keeps hitting, Perez not surprised | www.ajc.com
Evan Gattis keeps hitting, and the Braves keep talking about finding a roster spot for him.

Braves believe they can dethrone Nats in NL East | braves.com: News
For the first time since Bobby Valentine was managing the Mets more than a decade ago, the Braves might once again have a true division rival in the Nationals, a team that is also looking toward the future with great expectations.

Over/under: Homers from Braves outfield - SweetSpot Blog - ESPN
A reader suggested this one in Tuesday's chat: 91 home runs from the Braves outfield trio of Jason Heyward, B.J. Upton and Justin Upton.

Kelly and Yunel, Reunited - Spring Training Blog - ESPN
Our old infielders are probably going to have good years with the Rays because the Rays love players like our old infielders.

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