Atlanta Braves catcher Evan Gattis came off the disabled list on Monday. (Reuters)
ATLANTA — The Atlanta Braves are 13-6 in the games Evan Gattis missed, but they know that they are a lot more dangerous team with the slugging catcher in the lineup.
Sidelined since injuring his back June 27, Gattis came off the disabled list on Monday.
“I expect him to be here and in the lineup,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said.
Gattis’ return beat the early estimated recovery time of at least four weeks, but the real news was that the powerful right-handed hitter was able to avoid potential surgery on a bulging disk.
Gattis played four rehab games with Triple-A Gwinnett, going 3-for-16. On Sunday, he went 2-for-6 with two RBIs and two runs. He caught Friday and Saturday and was the designated hitter in the first and fourth game of the series against Durham.
Gattis had just one hit before Sunday, but the Braves knew it would take a few games for him to get his timing back at the plate. He struck out seven times in the four-game series.
Gattis was hitting .290 with 16 homers and 39 RBIs in 63 games for Atlanta when he hurt his back on a swing. Included was a 20-game hitting streak.
Rookie Christian Bethancourt started 13 of the 19 games Gattis missed, and he played well. He is was sent back to Gwinnett so he could play every day.
Bethancourt hit .240 with a double and three RBIs, reaching base safely in 11 games.
Gerald Laird is entrenched as the Braves’ backup catcher, and he will again serve as the No. 2 backup.
VENTERS THROWING: Jonny Venters, who had the second Tommy John elbow surgery of his career in May 2013, has resumed light throwing, but doesn’t have a timetable for his potential return from the disabled list. The reliever received a platelet-rich plasma injection a month ago after a setback.
He returned to throwing Friday and continued light tossing Saturday and Sunday, reporting no soreness.
WOOD EVENS RECORD: Alex Wood retired the final 13 batters he faced as he evened his record at 7-7 with a victory over Philadelphia on Sunday. He allowed just one run on three hits, walked none and struck out eight.
The run came on a homer by John Mayberry Jr. in the second inning. Wood, who has a 3.24 ERA, lost a 1-0 game in Philadelphia early this season.
LASTELLA TOUGH IN CLUTCH: Tommy La Stella, who hit a three-run double in the third inning Sunday against Philadelphia, is 6-for-7 with 13 RBIs in bases-loaded situations during his rookie season. La Stella, batting .297 after his first 46 games, added another double later in a 2-for-4 outing. He is hitting .353 (18-for-51) in his past 13 games.