Catching: it's been teased since Evan Gattis' arrival when the Astros traded for him over a year ago. And finally, Gattis the catcher is coming to a ballpark near you sooner than you might expect.
Gattis on Wednesday enrolled into catching university, with classes taught by professor A.J. Hinch.
"Receiving, a little bit of throwing, little blocking," A.J. Hinch said of the things Evan Gattis did, "we focused mostly on receiving and different ways to setup and receive the pitch."
Gattis was happy with the progress he had learning from Hinch.
"Throwing went well, was good to have (Erik) Kratz around, footwork's a little rough, it's nothing that can't get ironed out," Evan Gattis said.
After a year away from being behind the plate, it's something that he is itching to do again.
"I didn't catch all year last year so I am kinda anxious to get back out there, I don't know what the timetable is but I am excited to get in a big league game," Gattis said.
As Gattis mentioned, there is no real set timetable for when he will get his chance behind the plate. It does seems pretty clear the return could before the end of the month if not sooner. Gattis says health-wise he feels fine and is ready to go, but Hinch mentioned that he'll catch some bullpens and once he is comfortable, then that's when he'll get the call.
Gattis has not caught bullpens since Spring Training, but on the rehab trip in AA Hinch did say that Gattis worked on some drills with the team's catching coordinator. Thursday, Gattis will get back into the groove of things bullpen-wise, and how he responds to that will likely speak to how close he really is.
"The skills are there he cares a lot about catching, Hinch said of Gattis,"we talk catching all the time when he stands next to me during the game."
The two years during which Gattis did catch for the Braves, by all accounts it went pretty well. In 2013, his catcher's ERA was 3.03, and 3.32 in 2014. A pretty good tick up from Jason Castro or Hank Conger last season with a 3.51 and a 3.52 respectively.
While he has caught before, it still is a little of an unknown of what he give them behind the plate and how often he can play behind the dish. Catching might be like riding a bike again, but health wise Gattis might need some rest in between bike rides.