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Adjustment paying off for Braves' Gattis

Braves catcher Evan Gattis recently adjusted his swing and entered Monday night’s game against the Rockies on a nine-game hitting streak. (Reuters)

Braves catcher Evan Gattis recently adjusted his swing and entered Monday night’s game against the Rockies on a nine-game hitting streak. (Reuters)

PHOENIX — Braves catcher Evan Gattis made a recent swing adjustment designed to eliminate what he calls “side-to-side movement” and improve his bat path, to help him get to down-and-away pitches and lay off the high-and-in fastballs that had been causing him problems.

He believes the change was the impetus for his current surge.

And does anyone care to argue otherwise with El Oso Blanco?

Gattis has become not just a big power threat but a formidable hitting machine of late, batting .371 (13-of-35) with three doubles, four homers and 10 RBIs during his nine-game hitting streak entering Monday’s late game against the Rockies. He’s hitting .269 overall, leads major-league catchers with 12 home runs in just 160 at-bats, and ranks third among Braves with 28 RBIs.

“My swing’s changed a little bit,” Gattis said. “I’ve kind of gotten more up and down, better (bat) path, more vertical instead of side-to-side movement. That way, sometimes I can be right here and see it spinning and just (go straight down to the ball).”

The explanation isn’t as clear without Gattis demonstrating as he did for a reporter. But it’s apparent from watching him that he’s leaning closer to the plate and standing a little taller over it.

Interestingly, Gattis said being called for a catcher’s interference infraction last month when his mitt hit Giants slugger Buster Posey’s bat also caused him to think about his own stance and approach. He marveled at how deep Posey was letting pitches get before swinging and driving them to the opposite field.

Gattis started to think about how he might benefit from being able to wait a little longer on pitches and how it might help him lay off some breaking balls.

Gattis had three hits Saturday and was out of the lineup for a scheduled rest Sunday afternoon when the Braves played a series finale against the Diamondbacks.

“He’s been great,” veteran backup catcher Gerald Laird said. “You can see the adjustments he’s making as a young hitter. I mean, last year and coming into this year he saw a lot of breaking stuff, and now you’re seeing him start to take (those pitches) or even when they throw it in the zone take good swings and get base hits. That means they’ve got to come back with the fastball and that’s his bread and butter.

“He’s made huge strides as a hitter, and (improved) offensively and defensively. You can see it all coming together now, so I’m happy for him.”