It took a roundabout road to get him there, but Evan Gattis has officially broken into the Major Leagues with the Atlanta Braves, making his first big league team at the age of 26. He will backup Gerald Laird at catcher until Brian McCann returns in late April.
Though Fredi Gonzalez had the pleasure of telling El Oso Blanco (Spanish for "the white bear," a nickname Gattis earned in the Venezuelan Winter League), he had to make sure he did it the right way.
"I didn't want to play a joke on him," Gonzalez said on braves.com. "I might have got my [butt] kicked on that one."
Gattis, though he looks tough with is tall stature, described making the team as an emotional experience.
"I'm trying not to get too excited yet even though I've already cried and everything else," Gattis said. "I didn't know what to think. It's definitely a day I'll remember forever."
What hasn't been established yet is how much playing time Gattis will have in the expected month he'll be on the big league roster.
"I think we'll play it by ear," Gonzalez said. "We know what he can do offensively. I didn't tell him he was going to be the backup guy. He could split time with Laird right down the middle, or maybe he could get even more time."
Gattis slugged five homers and hit .358 in 22 Grapefruit League games this year, which surprised no one. The only concern for the Braves is his defensive capability.
"He's good enough where he's not going to cost you the game," Gonzalez said.
Gattis could have played at Texas A&M out of high school but was coping with a built up depression stemming from his parents' divorce when was a child. He had to go to rehab for alcohol and marijuana use before being employed as a janitor, cook, ski lift operator and a housekeeper at a hostel over the next four years.
He played one year at University of Texas Permian Basin before the Braves drafted him in 2010 in the 23rd round.
Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, Evan Gattis, MLB
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