0

Rehabbing Gattis to join G-Braves

The Gwinnett Braves are adding the power hitter they’ve so badly needed.

Unfortunately for them, it is likely to be for just a few games.

Evan Gattis is scheduled to join the G-Braves on a rehab assignment for the four-game series with Durham beginning tonight at Coolray Field.

Gattis, sidelined since June 27 because of a bulging thoracic disk in his back, has been taking batting practice with Class A Rome and is slated to be make his return as a designated hitter with Gwinnett.

If all goes well, the catcher could be activated by Atlanta as soon Monday for the start of a four-game series with Miami. The Braves play Philadelphia three times this weekend to start an 11-game homestand.

Getting Gattis back that early would be welcome news for the Braves – if not Gwinnett.

The right-handed hitter is batting .290 with 16 homers and 39 RBIs in 63 games, and Atlanta needs him healthy if its expects to beat out Washington for the National League East title.

Gattis received an epidural shot on July 2 and was cleared to begin light baseball activities last Friday.

The 27-year-old slugger skipped Gwinnett on the way to Atlanta. But he played five games with the G-Braves last season after an oblique strain and batted .333 with a home run.

Gwinnett could use more hitting like that this time.

The G-Braves return from the All-Star break with a 44-54 record and are 18-35 since holding first place in the International League South on May 22.

Gwinnett has won just one series since – taking two games at home against Durham on July 4-5. The G-Braves followed that up by going 2-7 before the AAA All-Star Game and are now 9½ games behind the Bulls.

Worse yet, Gwinnett is just three games ahead of third-place Norfolk and four games up on last-place Charlotte.

The G-Braves haven’t made the postseason since their first season in 2009, but there was hope that they might be able to contend for a spot this season.

For a few weeks, Gwinnett was able to compensate for the loss of slugger Ernesto Mejia, who signed to play in Japan, because Joey Terdoslavich went on a hot streak.

Terdoslavich, though, then went ice-cold and soon promotions to Atlanta, as well as injuries, caught up with the G-Braves.

Tommy La Stella is now the Braves’ second baseman and Christian Bethancourt took over as the regular catcher when Gattis went down.

The G-Braves also have six players on the disabled list. The latest is second baseman Tyler Pastornicky, out with inflammation in the left knee after having ACL surgery last year.

Mejia still is tied for the team lead with seven homers despite being gone since early May and now the G-Braves have lost their most reliable starting pitcher.

Cuban veteran Yunesky Maya, who had a 2.63 ERA, signed to pitch in Korea.

It has been a revolving door all season for manager Brian Snitker. The G-Braves have used 50 players – 29 of them pitchers.

In addition to a needed power boost, Gattis’ rehab may offer a lift in attendance.

The G-Braves, who average 4,431 per date, have dropped to next-to-last in the International League with Charlotte now packing its new ballpark. Only Syracuse is drawing less than Gwinnett.

After the four games with Durham, the G-Braves host Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in a four-game series beginning Monday.

By then, Gattis could be back in Atlanta.

G-BRAVES BREAKDOWN

Gwinnett returns from the AAA All-Star break with a 44-54 record after going 18-35 since a 26-19 start. That leaves the G-Braves 9½ behind first-place Durham in the International League’s South Division.

THE GOOD

— Phil Gosselin ranks third in the International League with a .345 batting average and has played four positions. He is the reigning IL Hitter of the Week and made the AAA All-Star Game.

— Juan Jaime, the G-Braves’ other AAA All-Star selection, has 14 saves and 46 strikeouts in 31 2/3 innings. The right-hander has walked 27, though, and has a 3.96 ERA.

— Todd Cunnigham has been outstanding in center field and has a .274 batting average with a team-best 39 RBIs. He was 4-for-4 with a double and triple on July 4.

— Sean Kazmar is hitting .330 despite missing nearly two months with a hand injury. The shortstop is 7-for-20 with four RBIs in six games since his return.

THE BAD

— Edward Salcedo is hitting .200 and played his way off third base to right field, where he is still making miscues. He has 66 strikeouts and 20 errors.

— Daniel Rodriguez has lost eight straight decisions, tying the G-Braves record. Once 4-3 with a 3.00 ERA, the left-hander is now 4-11 with a 5.24 ERA.

— Joey Terdoslavich has heated back up of late, but he still has just seven homers and 35 RBIs in 93 games while batting .256. Much more was expected of the switch-hitter.

— Ryan Buchter is 2-3 with a 4.30 ERA in 34 relief appearances as he continues to battle control problems. The left-hander has struck out 43, but walked 20 in 44 innings.