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Pop of Gattis' bat surprises few


LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Braves came to Spring Training expecting to see Evan Gattis prove successful with the bat. Gattis' offensive skills have seldom been questioned, and he came to camp with the advantage of having played most of the offseason in the Venezuelan Winter League.

So there was not much surprise when Gattis homered and doubled while making his Grapefruit League season debut in Saturday's 8-3 loss to the Yankees at Champion Stadium. Over the next few weeks, the Braves will determine whether it makes sense to carry him on their 25-man roster as a backup outfielder who could play first base and serve as a third catcher.

"The biggest thing we need to figure out is, where are we going to play him?" said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez, who already has the comfort of having Justin Upton in left field and Freddie Freeman at first base.

Gattis' two-run home run in the sixth inning came against right-handed pitcher Mikey O'Brien. The line-drive shot provided a glimpse of the strength possessed by the 6-foot-4, 240-pound Gattis.

Gattis was used at catcher until the Braves moved him to the outfield midway through last season. While the 26-year-old prospect could catch if necessary, the Braves would not use him at that position on a regular basis.

While hitting 16 homers with a .960 OPS in 53 games in Venezuela, Gattis played left field at least once a week. Gattis will most likely spend some time in left field and at first base during Spring Training. He was serving as the designated hitter Saturday.

"Doing it every day is key with repetition," Gattis said of playing the outfield. "It's just like anything else. If you do it enough, you get better at it."

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