The best news of all for Evan Gattis is that with the acquisition of Brian McCann, the Astros will let Gattis focus on being the primary designated hitter and not have to worry about donning the tools of ignorance too often. Gattis set a career high with 32 homers last season, but with the uptick in power came a career-worst strikeout rate. Righties were a big problem for Gattis in 2016; even though he hit 22 of his 32 homers against right-handers, he batted .230 and struck out 29 percent of the time against them compared to .288 and 19 percent against lefties. He is projected to hit in the bottom half of the lineup, perhaps in between lefties McCann and Josh Reddick. Most importantly, Gattis retains catching eligibility in 2017.
Gattis made his first spring start as a catcher in Friday's game against the Mets, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. Gattis, who had battled a sore right shoulder, served as a designated hitter during his six spring appearances before Friday's game. He was hoping to test out his arm, but the Mets did not attempt to steal a base during the four innings that Gattis was in the game. He'll get more action behind the dish as spring progresses, so we'll get a chance to see how the shoulder responds when he throws with aggression.
Gattis will play "maybe a touch more than a traditional backup [catcher] but will get plenty of time" behind Brian McCann, according to manager A.J. Hinch, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle reports. "I think what can change that is how the DH plays," Hinch said. "Obviously the performances will change. But McCann will catch a majority of the games, Gattis will catch the balance of them and then as the schedule permits and the health permits, then we'll adjust accordingly." Gattis continues to work on his receiving and blocking skills, but the Astros make it clear in the offseason they weren't comfortable giving him full-time work behind the plate when they acquired McCann. Gattis will also see some time as the designated hitter, as Carlos Beltran may contribute a few games in the outfield, perhaps in place of lefty bats Josh Reddick and Norichika Aoki against a southpaw. Gattis' power ranks among the best for catcher-eligible fantasy players, and even as a backup, the veteran could wind up launching 25-plus bombs.
Gattis (shoulder) is expected to catch in a Grapefruit League game Friday, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle reports. Gattis has been limited to DH duties in games to this point in spring training while he's battled a sore right shoulder, which had made throwing an issue. It appears he's progressed well in his throwing program in recent days, and if workouts throughout the week continue to go well, we should see him behind the plate by the weekend. After the team brought in Brian McCann during the offseason, Gattis isn't expected to see regular time behind the plate in 2017, but he should still retain eligibility at the position across most fantasy formats after logging 55 starts at catcher last season.
Gates (shoulder) has increased his throwing program and is tentatively targeted for game action behind the plate mid-to-late next week, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com reports. Gattis been able to serve as Houston's designated hitter in spring games, but unable to play the field yet. This confirms why he didn't fill in for Brian McCann, who missed the last couple of days due to illness.
Gattis (shoulder) will man the DH spot and bat in the cleanup spot in Sunday's Grapefruit League game against the Braves, Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle reports. Gattis received an anti-inflammatory injection in his right shoulder a little over a week ago and has been limited in workouts lately, but it appears the worst of the injury is behind him. It remains to be seen when the Astros will use him behind the plate in a game, but the fact that he's serving as the DH on Sunday suggests that the issue is probably nothing to worry about.