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BRAVES NOTEBOOK: Atlanta's players sick of Puig-mania

Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig is hitting .407 with eight home runs and 19 RBI in just one month in the big leagues, but many around baseball are wondering if he is deserving of a spot on the All-Star roster.

Dodgers rookie Yasiel Puig is hitting .407 with eight home runs and 19 RBI in just one month in the big leagues, but many around baseball are wondering if he is deserving of a spot on the All-Star roster.

ATLANTA — They understand the buzz around Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and the desire many have to get the rookie sensation in the All-Star game, but some Braves took exception to ESPN.com openly campaigning for Puig to get the last spot on the National League team.

Puig, who debuted June 3, and Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman are among five candidates for the NL “Final Vote” spot to be selected by fans. The others are Nationals shortstop Ian Desmond, Giants outfielder Hunter Pence, and Puig’s Dodger teammate, first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

On ESPN.com’s website Sunday, a link initially urged fans to “Vote him in” referring to Puig, and later said, “He belongs.”

“Nobody has a chance” against Puig, Braves second baseman Dan Uggla said. “He’s been getting covered since he broke in. And he should be; he’s an exciting story. But should he make the All-Star team? No, not this year. But he’s going to make it. Which sucks for Freddie and other (Final Vote) guys, because they’ve been doing it the whole year.”

Puig hit .407 with 17 extra-base hits (eight homers) and 19 RBI in 31 games before Sunday, with a .435 on-base percentage and .683 slugging percentage. In recent weeks his every move has been breathlessly chronicled by ESPN.

The Braves’ rookie phenom, Evan Gattis, heard his own name in All-Star discussions earlier, when he hit .281 with 12 homers, 32 RBI and a .619 slugging percentage in 43 April-May games. He’s been on the disabled list since straining an oblique in mid-June.

“Even though fans do want to see (Puig) play — that’s good for baseball and everything — but I don’t think anybody deserves it after one month,” Gattis said. “I don’t think I deserved it.”

When a reporter asked Freeman late Saturday about competing with Puig in the Final Vote competition, Freeman smiled and said, “Good luck with that, huh? He’s already on the lede ESPN ticker.”

Braves closer Craig Kimbrel was named to the NL All-Star team for the third consecutive season. He’ll be their lone representative unless Freeman wins the Final Vote (www.MLB.com/vote) or a Brave is added as an injury replacement.

“I think he’s the best reliever in baseball, and has been since he put on a Braves uniform,” catcher Brian McCann said. “There should be more guys going from this team, being in first place in the NL East. I think Freddie Freeman deserves to go. He’s carried this team offensively all season long.”

Freeman said it was an honor to be in the Final Vote field. In his third season, he hit .307 with nine homers and a team-high 56 RBI before Sunday, and was fourth in the majors with a .406 average with runners in scoring position.

Some Braves took issue with media swaying votes when All-Star starters — and Final Vote winners — are selected by fans.

“I think it’s B.S.,” pitcher Tim Hudson said. “It’s pretty obvious what players certain media outlets want to have plugged in. You have young, exciting players — and they are that. I’m not saying they don’t deserve to have the opportunity to be in there, but these guys that are competing with them to get these last couple of spots, they’re just as deserving.

“The whole fan vote thing, I think is obnoxious. I mean, the starting players in the All-Star game are determined by fans who can plug any players they want in there, and it determines home-field advantage for the World Series. The World Series! It’s not fair. At all.”

Hudson said that as long as the game determines World Series home-field advantage, selecting All-Stars shouldn’t be a popularity contest.

“As players, we might have the opportunity to play in the World Series,” he said. “I think we should determine which starting nine we put out there (in the All-Star game). Our livelihood and our season and our chances to win a World Championship (are affected by) that game.”

Uggla, a three-time All-Star voted to start last summer, said: “If they wanted to start making it matter, they should let the players vote and get the right guys in. But they made it a fans’ game. The fans are going to vote in who they want in. Which is fine. They just need to change that to where this game doesn’t matter. It needs to be fun.”


Dad in stands for rookie Terdoslavich’s first base hit

ATLANTA — Joey Terdoslavich got his first hit in his second major league at-bat Friday night, and the Braves rookie got to share the moment with the person he most wanted to have there. His father, Joe.

“It was definitely a cool experience, especially with my dad here,” said Terdoslavich, who hit a sharp single to right field off Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon with two out in the ninth inning. “He was sitting behind the dugout. I looked over at the dugout, looked above it and saw him. He was really excited.

“To get the hit was special, but to look up and see how excited he was, was just as special, if not more.

Terdoslavich, 24, spent countless hours of his youth in Florida working with his father, from Little League through high school and right through last winter, when they focused on eliminating a bat waggle he picked up the previous season.

The work paid off when Terdoslavich impressed Braves officials in his second big-league spring training. On Thursday, he was called to the majors after hitting .318 with 24 doubles and 18 homers in 85 games at Triple-A Gwinnett.

“I was walking in (to the dugout after the last out), grabbed my stuff and came back up to say hi to him,” Terdoslavich said, “and he couldn’t even say anything. It was pretty cool. He was just, like, ‘Awesome. Awesome.’ That’s all he kept saying.”

GATTIS UPDATE: Evan Gattis, who is the disabled list, accompanied the Braves to Philadelphia over the weekend and continued his progress toward returning, a time still to be determined.

Gattis, recovering from a strained oblique, ran and threw in the outfield, then hit balls off a tee for the third time in the indoor batting cages.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Gattis was told to rest Sunday before he increases his activities when the Braves travel to Miami. The manager said it was unlikely Gattis would be ready to take live batting practice before the end of that series.

Emergency catcher: After Gerald Laird was ejected from Friday’s 5-4 loss in the third inning for arguing with home-plate umpire Angel Hernandez, it left the Braves with only one active catcher, Brian McCann.

Gonzalez, who also was ejected by Hernandez after coming to Laird’s defense, said the emergency catcher would’ve been infielder Paul Janish or Terdoslavich, although the manager didn’t know that until talking to each of them at the indoor batting cage after he was tossed from the game.

“Janish said he did it in Cincinnati, was the official third catcher, and he even caught (bullpen sessions),” Gonzalez said. “Terdo said he caught in high school and even caught a little in college, in the bullpen. And (Tyler) Pastornicky volunteered.”