WASHINGTON -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez wanted veteran catcher Gerald Laird behind the plate for Julio Teheran's start at Nationals Park on Friday night. But he also wanted to keep his primary catcher, Evan Gattis, in the middle of his lineup.
Gonzalez satisfied both desires by utilizing Gattis as his starting first baseman in Friday's 6-4, 10-inning win against the Nationals. The rookie catcher's only previous professional experience at the position came via seven games with Class A Rome in 2011.
"He's fine," Gonzalez said before the game. "He's played [the position] before. He looked good. We're not going to ask him to do anything crazy at first base. Really there is nothing crazy to do at first base but get the ball. He's comfortable with it and we're comfortable with it."
Before Gattis could truly get comfortable, Denard Span opened the bottom of the first with a swinging bunt. Third baseman Chris Johnson fielded the ball and made an errant throw that pulled Gattis off the bag.
After the game, Gattis said he could have made a better stretch if his footwork was better around the bag. But the only play that he wished he could have truly had back was the high Bryce Harper pop fly that he whiffed on while attempting to make a catch in front of the Nationals' dugout in the fifth inning.
"[The night] was as smooth as I could have asked for, I guess," Gattis said. "I just wish I would have stayed with that fly ball."
Gonzalez made this decision to put Gattis at first base after watching him take ground balls early Friday afternoon.
"It's that old adage that I know that he's going to get four at-bats," Gonzalez said. "We don't know if he's going to get four ground balls hit to him during the course of the game. He's a big part of our lineup right now, a big part of our offense."
With the Nationals starting left-hander Ross Detwiler on Friday, the Braves opted to utilize Johnson at third base instead of Juan Francisco, who has struggled in the past against southpaws. Johnson has been the primary first baseman in Freeman's absence.
Martinez to disabled list with shoulder strain
WASHINGTON -- The question about how the Braves would make room for newly acquired reliever Luis Ayala on their 25-man roster was answered on Friday when Cristhian Martinez was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain.
Martinez felt some discomfort in his shoulder while he was preparing to pitch the ninth inning of Wednesday night's 8-0 win over the Marlins. The 31-year-old right-hander traveled back to Atlanta on Thursday to be evaluated by the team's doctors.
"We were going to pitch him in the ninth inning of the Miami game," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He threw about 10 or 11 pitches and then turned around and told [bullpen coach Eddie Perez] his shoulder was bothering him a little bit, so we shut him down."
Gonzalez said early indications were that Martinez would simply need a couple weeks of rest. Martinez has served as the long reliever in Atlanta's bullpen since the 2011 season.
Ayala was acquired from the Orioles in exchange for a Minor League pitcher on Wednesday, and the 35-year-old right-hander pitched a scoreless seventh inning during Friday night's game against the Nationals at Nationals Park. He combined to post a 2.40 ERA while making 118 appearances for the Yankees and Orioles during the 2011 and '12 seasons, and was 1-0 with a 9.00 ERA in two games with Baltimore this year.
"We got reports from some of our scouts who have seen him," Gonzalez said of Ayala. "We feel comfortable using him."
Gonzalez will continue to utilize Luis Avilan, Jordan Walden and Eric O'Flaherty as closer Craig Kimbrel's primary setup men. With Jonny Venters sidelined for an undetermined time with a sprained left elbow, Ayala will add some proven depth to the bullpen.
• Venters' wife Viviana gave birth to Walker Bradley Venters on Friday. The couple now has two children.
• The Braves entered Friday with a Major League best 1.89 ERA. They allowed only 18 runs (17 earned) in the first nine games of the season. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this matches the third-fewest runs any Braves team had allowed through the first nine games. The 1993 club holds the record, having allowed only 15 runs through the same span.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.