HOUSTON -- David Hale knows the plan is for him to continue serving as a long relief option in the Braves' bullpen. But this reality did not minimize the excitement he felt when he learned he will start the second game of Saturday's doubleheader in Philadelphia.
"I like the starting role," Hale said. "It's probably what I prefer and hopefully I get to do it in my future. It's always good to know they have the confidence to put me in that spot."
Hale will be making his first start since limiting the Reds to one run over eight innings on April 26. Since spending most of this season's first month as a starting pitcher, he has filled various bullpen roles. He threw 40-plus pitches in three different relief appearances between June 10-16.
The Braves have not yet publicly set a pitch count for Hale, who has gained some much-needed rest as he has thrown just three pitches over the past week. But they are expected to bring right-handed pitcher Gus Schlosser up from Triple-A Gwinnett to serve as their 26th roster member for the doubleheader.
If Schlosser is not needed in the first game of the twin bill, he could piggyback with Hale by providing three or four innings in the nightcap.
"I feel I can do whatever they want me to do," Hale said. "I feel I could easily do five, but I'm sure they're going to have their restrictions."
Streaking Gattis making case for All-Star nod
HOUSTON -- Braves catcher Evan Gattis has not garnered as much All-Star balloting attention as the Cardinals' Yadier Molina, the Brewers' Jonathan Lucroy or the Giants' Buster Posey. But from an offensive perspective, Gattis has been one of the National League's most productive catchers this season.
Gattis leads all National League catchers with 16 home runs and a .561 slugging percentage. He ranks second to Lucroy in both batting average (.291) and OPS (.904).
The Braves catcher strengthened his All-Star credentials during a 20-game hitting streak that was snapped on Sunday. During his past 25 games, he has hit .357 with eight home runs and a 1.074 OPS.
When the most recent balloting updates were released on Monday, Gattis ranked fourth among NL catchers. He was more than 1.5 million votes behind Molina's leading total.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday, July 3, at 11:59 p.m. ET. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15.
Floyd undergoes season-ending surgery
HOUSTON -- Other than knowing Gavin Floyd will not pitch again this season, the Braves have not yet learned much about the season-ending elbow surgery the veteran right-handed pitcher underwent on Wednesday afternoon.
Floyd underwent the surgery to repair the fractured olecranon he suffered in his right elbow during a June 19 start against the Nationals. Dr. David Altchek performed this procedure a little more than 13 months after performing Tommy John surgery on Floyd.
When meeting with reporters on Wednesday, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Altchek had to insert screws into Floyd's elbow.
Altchek informed the Braves that he wants to see how the elbow heals initially before setting any potential timetable for his return.
Floyd will be a free agent at the end of this season. The one-year deal he signed with the Braves in December ended up being worth approximately $4.75 million.
Freeman plays day after exit from HBP
HOUSTON -- Less than 16 hours after being hit with a pitch that forced him to exit Wednesday night's game, Freddie Freeman returned to Minute Maid Park on Thursday afternoon and preserved his goal to be in the starting lineup for every game the Braves play this season.
"It's going to take a lot to keep me out of the game," Freeman said. "Unfortunately, it got me yesterday. But I like to play every game. That's why I'm here. I think I'm good enough to go today. So, we'll do that."
Freeman awoke with minimal swelling near the bottom of his right triceps muscle, the area where he was struck with Darin Downs' fastball during the eighth inning of Wednesday night's 4-0 win over the Astros. His immediate exit from the game allowed him to quickly apply ice to the bruised area.
"I think that's what saved me," Freeman said. "If I would have waited to deal with the swelling after the game, I think it would have been [more significant] and I don't think I would have been able to go today. I think that was a bright move."
Freeman's flexibility was not adversely affected when he took swings in the indoor batting cage on Thursday morning.
While he was pleased to make an immediate return to the lineup, Freeman was not excited to learn that he would need to wear a protective pad over his right elbow and triceps muscle for at least a few days.
"I've still got pain, but it's manageable," Freeman said. "I went in and swung. I wasn't swinging different, but I still had a little pain in there. It's nothing a little Advil won't take care of."
Freeman, the Cubs' Starlin Castro and the Giants' Hunter Pence were the only National League players who entered Thursday having started every game played by their respective teams this year.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.