Braves’ Manager Fredi Gonzalez: B.J. Upton, Gattis, Heyward, Price

Atlanta Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez talked with the press at the Winter Meetings on Tuesday and described some of the team’s happenings. Here are some of the things Gonzalez discussed with the media.

1. Despite B.J. Upton‘s struggled last season hitting a lowly .184/.268/.289 with nine home runs and 26 RBI in 126 games, Gonzalez assured Upton that 2014 would be a clean slate and to forget about the struggles he encountered in his first campaign in Atlanta.BJ Upton

“It’s got to be that message,” said Gonzalez on Upton. “You have to forget about it. It’s a season that’s going to be on their Major League Baseball card that they want to forget. He’s a good center-fielder, he can run and he’s still a young guy and we’ll get him going again.”

Atlanta surely hopes Upton can return to his 2012 form in Tampa Bay where he batted .246/.298/.454 with 28 home runs and 78 RBI; one of the season’s that allowed him to earn the five-year, $75 million contract with the Braves.

2. Evan Gattis has been told by Gonzalez and the organization that he will be the team’s regular catcher going into Spring Training and the regular season, barring any sudden changes.

Gattis, 27, came on the scene with Atlanta in Spring Training in 2013 and forced the hand of the organization to allow him to break camp. He shows the club his offensive prowess, batting .243/.291/.480 with 21 home runs, 65 RBI in 105 games.

“I thought he did a terrific job,” said Gonzalez of Gattis. “I talked to him about three or four days ago and I told him that he’s going to be the guy behind the plate. Evan is one of those guys who likes to be goal-oriented and wants to be told what the goal is going to be for next year. We talked and had a nice conversation and is getting ready to be our catcher.”

The likely plan was for Gattis to be the main starter with the departure of Brian McCann to the New York Yankees. Gerald Laird and prospect Christian Bethancourt are there to provide as competition.

3. Jason Heyward is projected to remain in the leadoff spot going into next season.

He was inserted into the lead-off role during the month of July and batted .341 from the No. 1 spot until he was sidelined with a freak broken jaw injury on a hit by pitch.

Heyward, who will be turning 25 next year, batted .254/.349/.427 with 14 home runs and 38 RBI in 104 games last season. He’s been selected to one All-Star game in his first full seasons.

David Price4. Multiple sources have told OPSN that David Price‘s preferred destination would be the Atlanta Braves. Even though those same sources indicated the team is openly looking for an ace, that doesn’t mean the organization is keying on him this winter.

“You always want to get better,” said Gonzalez. “You always want to improve and if there is somebody out there, yeah you always want one of those aces. I’ve wished for a lot of presents for Christmas but I never get them all; it’s always good to wish.

“We feel good about our club. If you look at our postseason against the Dodgers, other than the Julio Teheran game [3], our guys hit okay and they matched up. But yeah, we wish for a lot of things. If they’re out there that fits and makes our team better, I’m sure Frank [Wren] will get it done.”

The Braves are still fond of their young arms with Mike Minor, Kris Medlen, Julio Teheran and Brandon Beachy expected to break camp as the top four in the rotation. At this point, the chances of acquiring an Ace are a long shot.

Follow OPSN’s Andrew Vigliotti on Twitter LIVE from the Winter Meetings @Andrew_Vig

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