Evan Gattis. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

El Oso Blanco Visits The Vet

On Tuesday Braves catcher Evan Gattis had an epidural  to help him recover from a bulging thoracic disk. Gattis who earned the nickname El Oso Blanco – the white bear – while playing winter ball in Venezuela prior to the 2013 season – told skipper Fredi Gonzalez getting the epidural was painless and he felt no after effects.

“Yeah, he came in and was explaining to me the whole (epidiural) procedure,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He could see what was going on in the camera. They’ve got to figure out where that needle is going. He said, ‘Man, it was that close to my spinal cord.’ But he felt good. He said there’s no pain or anything like that.”

Since the day Gattis was injured jokes referencing his his famous personna have sprung up like weeds after a rainstorm. Two innings after he left the game it was reported Gattis had a rhomboid strain causing @Tom_Hart who was helping out in the TV booth to say, “I didn’t know bears had a rhomboid.”  It was no surprise then that a reported had a bear related question for Gonsalez asking if they’d used animal tranquilizer on the Bear. The Skipper went along with the joke.

“They went to Dr. Goode’s veterinary (clinic),” Gonzalez cracked, referring to a vet in Marietta, where the manager lives. “While he was out they checked his teeth, too.”

Gattis had never experienced any back issues prior to this one and didn’t know what to expect. The doctors told him that about 95% of such things return to normal without surgical intervention. For the sake of the Braves lineup as well as Gattis physical being  we all hope that’s the case this time. When he went on the DL El Oso Blanco was the Braves cleanup hitter and slashing .290/.342/.558/.900 with 16 home runs, 10 doubles and 39 RBI. It’s impossible to pick up those numbers from a bench player.  The Braves hope he returns right after the All Star break but it’s impossible to put an exact time on this kind of injury.

That’s A Wrap

The injury to El Oso Blanco comes at a time when the Braves are playing a series of sub-500 teams and have so far been able to make up for his stint in hibernation. They’ve also had a chance to add their number one non-pitching prospect Christian Bethancourt to the lineup and see how he performs. Before Gattis’ arrival it was almost certain Bethancourt would have been the starter this year but until now he’s been kept at Gwinnett.  As someone who wore those tools when I was younger I like to watch how a catcher works and Bethancourt moves like he was born for the job. He blocks everything blockable and has a rifle for an arm. He also frames pitches as well as any I’ve seen. In the first inning on tonight’s game against the Mets Bethancourt stole a strike on Daniel Murphy. That strike led to Murphy swinging at and missing another pitch in the same are and striking out. Those little things change games and win series.  Bethancourt presents the Braves with a real problem, Gattis is a power bat who catches well. Bethancourt is a gold glove catcher who will hit well but not like Gattis. How they manage those two in the future will be interesting. For now we hope for Gattis swift and pain free return, his .900 OPS will be essential down the stretch.

Tags: Atlanta Braves

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