ATLANTA -- A number of Carolina League pitchers were pleased to learn the Braves have promoted Evan Gattis to Double-A Mississippi. This anticipated promotion was made after highly-touted catching prospect Christian Bethancourt strained his right hamstring on Sunday.
While Bethancourt is sidelined for what the Braves hope is not much more than a week, Gattis will share the catching duties with Matthew Kennelly and also spend time in left field. The 25-year-old catcher spent the early portion of this month introducing himself to the outfield and played three games in left field before being promoted from Class-A Advanced Lynchburg.
"When Bethancourt gets back, he'll still do some catching," Braves assistant general manager Bruce Manno said. "But he'll probably transfer a little more to the outfield as he gets a little more comfortable with it. It's a process. So we have to prepare him right and make sure he is ready for it."
A late developer who joined the professional ranks after overcoming his battle with chemical dependency, Gattis led the South Atlantic League in batting average (.322) and home runs (22) in just 88 games last year. He continued to impress during Spring Training this year and earned this latest promotion after hitting .385 with nine homers and a 1.289 OPS in 21 games with Lynchburg.
While the Braves want Gattis to catch enough to remain familiar with the position, it seems he could reach the big leagues sooner if he proves he can find some comfort in the outfield.
"He's a workaholic," Manno said. "So he'll work at it. I know he'll work and be as prepared as he can be to do this. He doesn't want to give up on the catching, which I think is great. The more versatility he has, the more value he has."
Heyward rests with soreness near oblique
ATLANTA -- Jason Heyward awoke on Monday with some soreness around his right oblique muscle. The 22-year-old outfielder will rest until the Braves are confident he is not in danger of suffering a strain that would cause him to miss much more than just a couple days.
"With those things, I didn't want to mess with it," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said while explaining why Heyward was not in the starting lineup for Monday night's series finale against the Pirates.
Heyward is hoping to return to the Braves' lineup by Wednesday. He played the entirety of Sunday's win over the Pirates without any problem. But he awoke on Monday morning feeling some discomfort in his right side.
"There's no tightness," Heyward said. "It's just sore and tender to the touch."
Heyward said the Braves medical staff informed him that he would be in more danger of suffering a strain if he was feeling tightness around his oblique muscle. Both parties seemed confident that he should gain enough relief to return to the lineup within the next couple of days.
Jurrjens takes positive step at Gwinnett
ATLANTA -- Jair Jurrjens took a step in the right direction when he tossed seven strong innings for Triple-A Gwinnett against Toledo on Sunday. But this was just one of the multiple steps the former All-Star pitcher will have to make before getting a call back to the Majors.
"He did some things good," Braves assistant general manager Bruce Manno said. "It's a process. But it's encouraging to see him go out and do well and work on some things. He's accepted it really well. That's a big part of it, when somebody embraces it and realizes that 'I've got to work at this and make some adjustments.'"
Jurrjens allowed four hits and one run while needing just 93 pitches to complete seven innings against Toledo. This was his first start since the Braves demoted him last week. In four starts with Atlanta, he had posted a 9.37 ERA and extended the struggles that began after last year's All-Star break.
Jurrjens' velocity has been down since he suffered a right knee injury at the end of the 2010 season. While the Braves would like to see him regain his normal velocity, they have told him to spend this time in the Minors attempting to get a feel for how to best utilize his fastball and secondary pitches with the arm strength that he can currently generate.
"It's not so much velocity as it is the other stuff and how it affects the other pitches," Manno said. "That's what he's got to work on. He might get more velocity back."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.