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Fredi planning to keep Gattis behind plate

Bethancourt likely to return to Triple-A when catcher comes off DL

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NEW YORK -- Catcher Evan Gattis seemingly provided a sign of encouragement when he crouched behind the plate to field a few between-innings warmup pitches during Tuesday night's game against the Mets. But Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he still does not expect Gattis to be activated from the disabled list immediately after the All-Star break next week.

Gattis has been sidelined since June 28 with a back injury. He was originally diagnosed with a strained rhomboid muscle, but an MRI exam showed a bulging thoracic disc.

Gonzalez said the plan remains for Gattis to catch some bullpen sessions this weekend. Because he suffered the injury while at the plate, swinging a bat will likely be the last hurdle he has to clear before he is cleared to begin playing in Minor League rehab games.

"With the bulging disc, it could still be a [rhomboid] muscle in addition to that," Gonzalez said. "So we'll take it slow."

Some members of the organization still seem to think it would be wise to move Gattis to left field when he returns. This would create the opportunity to continue using Christian Bethancourt, the better defensive option, behind the plate. But Gonzalez has never provided any indication that he is interested in this option.

If Gattis is used at the catcher on a regular basis after returning, Bethancourt would likely go to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he could continue getting the playing time he needs to further his development.

"I don't have plans for [Gattis] to play any other position," Gonzalez said. "I think we'll make the decision that Christian goes back -- he needs to play -- but I don't know when Gattis is going to be back."

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

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