ATL@NYM: Santana debuts with two strong frames

WASHINGTON -- Ervin Santana will make his Braves debut next week as long as he gets through the side session he is scheduled to complete on Sunday or Monday. Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said he is still leaning toward sending Santana to the mound to start Wednesday's game against the Mets.

"We've got really high hopes that [on Wednesday], we can pencil him in there," Gonzalez said.

Santana remained a free agent until the Braves signed him to a one-year, $14.1 million contract on March 12 -- two days after Atlanta had lost Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to season-ending elbow injuries within a 24-hour span.

Santana's lengthy stint on the free-agent market put him slightly behind schedule. But the 31-year-old right-hander has made up for lost time over the past couple of weeks. He allowed six runs -- five earned -- and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings for Triple-A Gwinnett in Friday night's game against Durham.

After holding Durham scoreless through the first three innings, Santana allowed at least one run in each of the final three innings in which he appeared. Durham's three-run sixth inning was aided by errors charged to right fielder Joey Terdoslavich and second baseman Tommy La Stella.

"[Santana] pitched better than the numbers show," Gonzalez said. "The reports showed there were some plays that could have been made, or were close plays."

Gattis latest Brave to battle stomach bug

ATL@WSH: Gattis crushes one to put Braves on board

WASHINGTON -- After hitting his first home run of the season in Friday afternoon's game against the Nationals, Braves starting catcher Evan Gattis returned to his hotel room and began battling the same stomach bug that weakened two members of Atlanta's starting rotation earlier this week.

With Gattis unavailable, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez opted to utilize Ryan Doumit as his starting catcher for Saturday night's matchup against Nationals right-hander Stephen Strasburg. To get another left-handed bat in the lineup against Strasburg, Gonzalez opted to play Doumit, a switch-hitter, instead of Gerald Laird, Gattis' primary backup.

David Hale began vomiting during Wednesday afternoon's series finale in Milwaukee, and remained sick as the Braves spent the evening hours traveling to Washington. Hale woke up feeling weak on Thursday morning. But he regained enough strength to toss five scoreless innings and get the win in Friday's series opener against the Nationals.

"It works quick, it's not one that lasts," Hale said of the bug.

Alex Wood started feeling sick shortly after he completed seven innings and earned the win in Tuesday night's game against the Brewers. He regained his strength over the past couple of days, and he does not believe he will be bothered by the after effects when he starts Sunday afternoon's series finale against the Nationals.

While the Braves are hopeful that Gattis also realizes a quick recovery, Laird will likely serve as Atlanta's starting catcher on Sunday.

Gearrin looking to get another opinion on elbow

ATL@DET: Gearrin exits with apparent injury

WASHINGTON -- Braves right-handed reliever Cory Gearrin appears destined to undergo Tommy John elbow reconstruction surgery. But Gearrin wants to get another opinion before going through with the surgical procedure that would likely sideline him for an entire calendar year.

The Braves' medical staff found a partial tear in Gearrin's ulnar collateral ligament, and Dr. James Andrews confirmed this diagnosis during an examination this week.

Despite the fact that the Braves and Andrews have suggested he needs to undergo Tommy John surgery, Gearrin is currently seeking another opinion.

Gearrin seemed destined to win one of the final available spots in Atlanta's bullpen before he experienced right elbow discomfort during his March 25 Grapefruit League start against the Tigers.

Worth noting

• Beginning Tuesday, the Braves are scheduled to play a game on 16 consecutive days. Gonzalez said he plans to give three members of his bench -- Jordan Schafer, Ramiro Pena and Tyler Pastornicky -- a chance to start at least one game next week.

• Mike Minor was pleased with the arm strength that he had during the two innings he completed during a Minor League rehab stint with Double-A Mississippi on Thursday night. Minor playfully pointed out that his fastball touched 94 mph. He is aiming to join Atlanta's rotation on April 23, which would allow him to make three more rehab starts.