LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves catcher Evan Gattis hadn't caught consecutive games this spring until Thursday, and now we know why: He had knee surgery in October, and the team has been careful with his workload behind the plate.
Gattis said that he had arthroscopic surgery to remove what he called a dime-sized bone chip that had been "floating around" in his right knee since around 2006, after he had knee surgery known as the OATS procedure while in junior college.
In that surgery, plugs of healthy cartilage and bone are moved from a non-weight-bearing part of the knee to replace damaged cartilage. Gattis was on crutches for two months, and soon quit junior college and began a nearly four-year period in which he was out of baseball.
Years later, the bone chip would occasionally move to a spot near the bottom of his quadriceps, and the knee would buckle.
"So I had that cleaned out, just smoothed it out," said Gattis, who had it done soon after the division-series loss to the Dodgers.
He made more starts in left field (47) than catcher (38) in 2013, but started 21 of the first 30 games at catcher -- including as many as five in a row -- while Brian McCann recovered from shoulder surgery. Gattis led major league rookies with 65 RBIs and ranked second with 21 homers.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez plans to use him as the catcher in 100-110 games, with Gerald Laird catching most of the others.
"It should be fine," Gattis said of his knee. "It's just a matter of watching it. I ice both knees every day, just because. So they won't get swollen or sore. It's preventive."