ST. LOUIS -- When Jason Heyward suffered a broken jaw on Wednesday, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he would shift Justin Upton from left field to right field and then mix and match to fill his other two outfield spots.
Gonzalez discussed the possibility of giving Evan Gattis a lot of playing time in left field. But with Gattis hitting just .188 (22-for-117) with three home runs and a .581 OPS since June 1, the Braves will be less persuaded to overlook his defensive shortcomings as an outfielder.
During the past two games, Gonzalez has started Jordan Schafer in left field and B.J. Upton in center field. This arrangement strengthens the defense that is weakened in Heyward's absence and also provides Upton a chance to get the consistent at-bats he needs to escape his season-long funk.
After learning Heyward will likely miss at least a month, Upton said he immediately realized the need to step up and prove to be the player the Braves envisioned when they gave him a franchise-record contract in November. He entered Saturday hitting .184 with a .560 OPS.
"I know I immediately thought to myself, 'All right, now is the time,'" Upton said. "If there has ever been a better time all season, this is it."
Making his first start since Heyward's injury on Friday night, Upton recorded a hit in three plate appearances and produced a sharp opposite-field line drive that provided some indication he could be regaining the comfort he had when he recorded 10 hits in his first 21 at-bats after coming off the disabled list earlier this month.
Medlen apologizes to Fredi for critical comments
ST. LOUIS -- When he returned to Busch Stadium on Saturday, Kris Medlen apologized to Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez for the heat-of-the-moment comments he made to reporters regarding his removal during the seventh inning of Friday night's 3-1 loss to the Cardinals.
"I'm a competitor and I want to be out there," Medlen said. "That's all I really told [Gonzalez] I was trying to say. ... It wasn't a big deal. He said whatever he said and it's done. It's not a distraction or anything. It was just me venting to the wrong people."
Gonzalez said this issue ended when he and Medlen shared their brief discussion Saturday afternoon. But he chose not to elaborate on the situation, which would have been a non-issue had Medlen not issued his critical comments in unsolicited fashion approximately 45 minutes after exiting the game.
"It's fine," Gonzalez said. "I don't even want to talk about it."
After Medlen surrendered a double and single to put runners on the corners with no outs and the Cardinals leading 2-1 in the seventh, Gonzalez called for Scott Downs to come out of the bullpen. It was seemingly a decision that most managers would have made in that same situation.
But Medlen made it known that he felt he should have been given a chance to clean up the mess he had created.
"I got taken out with 78 pitches," Medlen said Friday night. "I was just starting to have to battle. I didn't have to battle yet. But I wasn't given the opportunity. I guess I'm voicing the fact that I didn't appreciate that. I don't know what kind of mentality we're trying to create for our starters. But I feel like I should be able to work out of some jams."
Medlen altered his tune when he explained his comments on Saturday.
"I didn't give myself that five-minute cool-down period after a start to where I could really think about everything," Medlen said. "Obviously I wanted to stay in the game. There is something wrong with you if you don't want to stay in the game, whatever the situation is. But I was in a situation where I didn't have much leeway."
Gonzalez certainly had reason to believe Medlen might be fading. Nine of the 14 earned runs the right-handed pitcher had allowed in his previous five starts scored after he had thrown his 70th pitch.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.