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Gonzalez looking at lineup on Gattis' off-days

Gonzalez looking at lineup on Gattis' off-days

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez plans to construct the top of his lineup just as he did late last season.

Gonzalez plans to put Jason Heyward in the leadoff spot again. Heyward will be followed by Justin Upton, Freddie Freeman and Evan Gattis.

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With Gattis handling the primary catching duties, the Braves need to figure out how they will construct the heart of the order when their everyday backstop needs days off.

"When he's your best hitter in the lineup or he's a real good hitter in the lineup, it's hard to give him days off," Gonzalez said. "Then, all of a sudden, you've got to give him a day off, and then you've got a hole in that lineup."

Gonzalez mentioned Freeman, who bats third, as a possibility to fill the cleanup spot when Gattis needs rest, but said he's willing to mix and match until he finds a fit for those days the Braves will be without the 27-year-old backstop.

"You got to give Gattis a breather every once in a while," Gonzalez said. "Right now, I don't see ay other option of who's going to be that guy. He's the perfect guy that fits behind Freeman."

But, Gonzalez warns, as last season demonstrated, the order can -- and will -- change this season.

"The lineup is something that's not written in concrete," Gonzalez said. "You can start with one lineup and finish with a different one. One thing for sure with us managers, the better you hit, the higher you hit in the lineup."

Joe Morgan is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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