Johnson likely to man first with Freeman out

Johnson likely to man first with Freeman out

MIAMI -- When he learned Freddie Freeman would miss at least the next two weeks with a strained right oblique muscle, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez asked club officials about how much Evan Gattis had played first base in the Minor League level.

But it appears Chris Johnson will serve as the everyday first baseman while Freeman is sidelined. While Johnson draws this assignment, Juan Francisco will play third base on an everyday basis.

"I think Chris Johnson will serve that purpose and serve it well," Gonzalez said.

Gattis made his second straight start at catcher on Monday, and he is expected to play the position more frequently than Gerald Laird over the next couple a weeks. Six-time All-Star catcher Brian McCann is expected to be sidelined until at least the latter part of this month while recovering from right shoulder surgery.

If pressed into an emergency situation, Gonzalez said either of his two current catchers -- Gattis or Laird -- could play first base. But he said Laird would likely be the first option.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.