ATLANTA -- Another pain-free day of batting practice and other baseball activities for catcher Evan Gattis has the Braves optimistic he could return for the start of the team's first series after the All-Star break against the White Sox. Gattis will begin his Minor League rehab assignment on Friday as the designated hitter for Triple-A Gwinnett in the team's series opener at Durham.
"He felt great, he threw great," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said before Thursday's game. "He's done this for a couple of days now. We'll send him out and try to get him as many games as he needs before next Friday. We'll have a plan."
The Braves planned to give Gattis between three and six Minor League rehab starts over the next week, depending on how much game action the rookie slugger needs to return to full strength.
"We'll go day by day," Gonzalez said. "He may only need three games and he'll take the All-Star break off or maybe he says, 'You know what, I feel good, but my timing's not there.' We have places where he can play other than on Tuesday, get him some more games."
Gattis has been on the disabled list with a right oblique strain since June 18 after he tightened up after a big swing in the previous night's game against the Mets.
Beachy in high spirits after rehab start
ATLANTA -- It was all in good fun, but the glowing report Brandon Beachy relayed before Thursday's game against the Reds confirmed that the right-hander's rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett had gone off without a hitch.
"They said I was sitting between I think 102-103 [mph] the whole time, so that's pretty good," Beachy joked.
Beachy was in high spirits two days removed from his first rehab start since suffering a setback just before his scheduled mid-June return from Tommy John surgery. Squaring off against former Braves pitcher Jair Jurrjens in Gwinnett on Tuesday night, Beachy threw 45 pitches in three innings, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk.
"It was nice to get it going," Beachy said. "I didn't have the cleanest of starts, but I felt pretty good. I think I threw some quality pitches. It's definitely an improvement. I felt so much better."
Beachy issued a four-pitch walk to the first batter he faced and gave up a pair of doubles during a two-run first inning. He bounced back and went on to face the minimum in his final two innings, ending his outing with a strikeout.
"It's reassuring, because I've been throwing bullpens and stuff, so I knew that it felt different and it felt better," Beachy said. "Going through it and bouncing back pretty normally doesn't do anything to hurt my confidence."
Beachy was back with the Braves on Thursday, and he planned to throw a bullpen session before being sent back out for his second rehab start, which will likely come on Sunday, if he remains on a five-day schedule. It was still too early to put a date on when he might return to the Braves' rotation, but Beachy was cautiously hopeful he wouldn't need more than three rehab starts to regain full confidence in his elbow.
"It's something you can't really put a date on it, you just have to see, because it could flare back up at any time," Beachy said. "Something new could happen, it's just the nature of it, but hopefully if all goes well, I can get my pitch count up and start commanding some breaking balls a little better. Hopefully I'll be able to compete by then."
Carpenter garnering more important innings
ATLANTA -- After spending the first few months of the season working the late innings of games whose outcomes were already all but decided, reliever David Carpenter earned the Braves' trust that he could perform in tighter spots.
Of late, he has been the busiest member of the Atlanta bullpen, appearing in eight of the team's last 11 games going into Thursday night's series opener against the Reds. In 11 1/3 innings since June 29, Carpenter has posted a 1.59 ERA with 16 strikeouts against two walks and eight hits allowed.
On Monday night, he took the ball in the bottom of the 12th inning and put up two scoreless frames, earning his second win of the year after the Atlanta offense exploded for six runs in the top of the 14th.
"I'm just glad I'm getting an opportunity to go in and try to help us win, whether it's being behind a few runs, trying to hold the team where they're at and giving us a chance offensively to bust open, which you saw in the 14-inning game," Carpenter said. "This offense, it's definitely got that potential to have the huge inning, and you never know when it's going to come, but I'll tell you what, they go up there and they grind out at-bats."
Carpenter credited Tim Hudson with helping him hone his slider and splitter to complement his mid-90s fastball ever since he made his first appearance for the team on May 10 in San Francisco. After giving up two runs in that outing and struggling with his command over the rest of the month, Carpenter has walked just six batters and allowed four earned runs since the beginning of June.
"He throws that splitter, he throws a cutter-slider type thing, so getting the chance to go talk with somebody like that, it's always a blessing," Carpenter said. "It's great having a leader like that to go up to and ask him any type of question, because he's been through it. Whether it be a tough time trying to get a pitch to work, he can offer something that maybe somebody's not seeing."
Playing catch and talking shop with All-Star closer Craig Kimbrel every day doesn't hurt either. Between his teammates and his coaching staff, Carpenter believes he has gotten as much out of his increased role as he has contributed in recent weeks.
"It's fun getting to pitch for a group of guys like this," Carpenter said. "You have a great defense behind you, you got two great catchers and [Evan] Gattis coming back. It's a lot of fun being with a group of guys like this."
• Gonzalez said that outfielder Jordan Schafer was not yet ready to go out on a rehab assignment to test the right ankle contusion that has plagued him since he fouled a ball off his ankle on June 26 in Kansas City.
Schafer took batting practice for the first time since landing on the disabled list on Wednesday in Miami, but before Thursday's game, he told reporters he was still unable to run and that he didn't anticipate being ready to come off the DL when he becomes eligible next week at the start of a three-game series against the White Sox after the All-Star break. Schafer made two hobbled pinch-hit appearances during last week's series against the Marlins at home before being placed on the DL on July 4.
Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.