Evan Gattis’ 12 home runs entering Saturday was tied for fourth in the NL — but he’s done it in the fewest at-bats of anyone on the list.
ATLANTA — Braves fans are already getting excited at the thought of seeing Evan Gattis in the Home Run Derby July 15 during All-Star festivities in New York.
And, frankly, so is Gattis.
The rookie phenom said Friday he’d be happy to accept an invitation to participate if he is among those asked by the yet-to-be designated National League captain.
“I would love it,” said Gattis, who added that he wouldn’t worry his swing getting off-kilter as often happens to those who compete in the Derby, only to find themselves struggling with their swing for weeks afterward.
Gattis then added: “Nah, I wouldn’t be too worried about it. It’s just one day.”
Last year, Gattis — who once couldn’t even afford to find transportation out of New York and was begging for food and money during his hiatus from baseball — watched the home run derby with some buddies during extended spring training when he was out with a wrist injury. Participating this year would just add to the legend of his remarkable season.
“Just knowing that people would be watching, maybe my dad throwing -- that’d be cool,” said Gattis, whose father Jo coached him until he was 17 with his travel team, the Dallas Tigers.
Gattis was tied for fourth in the National League with 12 home runs, entering the weekend, but in only 137 at-bats, his long balls have come in the fewest among any NL player with double-digit homers. Gattis leads all rookies with 12 home runs, 23 extra-base hits and 32 RBI in 137 at-bats.
BEACHY ON TRACK TO RETURN MID-JUNE: If all goes well in Brandon Beachy’s next three minor league rehab outings, the Braves, 3-2 losers to Washington on Friday, won’t have to worry about finding an extra starter for their make-up doubleheader with the New York Mets in Atlanta on June 18.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez has already penciled in Beachy’s name — if lightly — to start one of those games.
“It would be a perfect fit,” Gonzalez said.
Of course, that is dependent on Beachy having no setbacks. So far, that has been the case.
Beachy, coming back from Tommy John elbow surgery, allowed three hits over five innings in a 3-0 home victory for Class A Rome over Charleston on Wednesday in his second minor league start. He threw 68 pitches while striking out three and walking one.
The right-hander’s command was better than it had been Friday, when half of his 70 pitches were balls during a four-inning outing for Triple-A Gwinnett against Toledo. He allowed two hits and two runs in that game, striking out three and walking three.
Beachy is expected to need three more rehab starts, at least one back at Gwinnett.
The 26-year-old is tentatively set to pitch for Double-A Mississippi at Chattanooga on Monday, then start at Gwinnett against Columbus a week from Saturday. If the schedule holds, a final rehab start would come June 13 -- exactly a year after he hurt his elbow. Beachy was leading the National League in ERA when he had to leave a start against Baltimore at Turner Field and he had reconstructive elbow surgery last June 16.
SUDDENLY ERROR-PRONE SIMMONS GETS REST: With the Braves in the midst of playing 20 consecutive games, Gonzlaez planned to give shortstop Andrelton Simmons a rest at some point. After watching him commit his third error in seven games Thursday night, Friday proved a good time.
Gonzalez jokingly blames an ESPN producer for jinxing Simmons, mentioning that the sure-handed shortstop hadn’t committed an error all season last Friday in New York, the day he went out and committed his first.
For his part, Simmons said he’s not dwelling on the mistakes.
“It’s the first time when I’ve made errors and it didn’t stay in my head,” said Simmons, whose fielding error Thursday opened the door for three Toronto runs off Mike Minor in an 11-3 win. “Used to be, when I was in the minors, whenever I made an error I was trying to figure out what was going on, and thinking about it, it would lead to another error. I made like 10 errors in 15 games in (Single-A) Lynchburg .... I’m not feeling like that right now. It’s just stuff that happens. It’s not in my head right now.”
MEDLEN ON TRACK TO START MONDAY AFTER LINE-DRIVE TO LEG IN LAST START: Kris Medlen did some running and took batting practice Friday and Saturday and said he’s on track to make his scheduled start Monday against the Pirates.
Medlen had to leave after two innings in Wednesday’s start against the Blue Jays after he was hit in the left calf by a line drive.
“I really only felt it the day of, that night,” Medlen said.