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Braves players to watch

May 6, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (19) crosses home plate after hitting a home run during the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park.  Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

May 6, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons (19) crosses home plate after hitting a home run during the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

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May 5, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves catcher Evan Gattis (24) drives in a run with a sacrifice fly against the New York Mets during the eighth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

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May 5, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson (15) pitches against the New York Mets during the sixth inning at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Infielder/outfielder Tyler Pastornicky was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett on Monday when catcher Brian McCann was recalled from his rehab assignment. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez likes Pastornicky's bat and expects him to remain in a utility role in the minors. Pastornicky hit just .143 in six games with Atlanta, but is a career .243 hitter in 76 major league games.

Shortstop Andrelton Simmons is lauded for his defense. But on Monday night, he was the offensive star for the Braves, belting a pair of home runs, including a two-run homer in the eighth to break open a close game. Simmons went 3-for-4 with a career-high four RBIs. It was his first career multi-homer game. Simmons has been working with teammates in the cage and BP to improve his approach at the plate.

Center/left fielder Evan Gattis is among three catchers on the Braves roster, now that McCann is back. In order to keep his bat in the lineup, Gattis made his first start in left field Monday night, and went 1-for-4 with a double and an RBI. Gattis, the NL Rookie of the Month for April, also committed an error on Todd Frazier's line drive. But Gonzalez believes his outfield defense will continue to improve with more opportunities.

Right-handed pitcher Tim Hudson was named NL Player of the Week after notching his 200th and 201st victories of his career, allowing just four runs and striking out 13 over 14 innings in two starts. It was the third NL Player of the Week honor for Hudson, including one while pitching for the Oakland A's in 2002.

McCann came off the DL and started behind the plate Monday in Cincinnati, marking his first appearance since undergoing right shoulder surgery last October. McCann hit .348 with four home runs and nine RBIs in seven rehab appearances at Single-A Rome and Triple-A Gwinnett. McCann played through right shoulder soreness for much of last season before having surgery to repair a torn labrum on Oct. 16. He went 0-for-4 with a walk and a strikeout Monday but said he was seeing the ball well and the shoulder felt fine.

Right fielder Jason Heyward took batting practice Monday and is expected to begin a rehab assignment by the end of the week, according to Gonzalez. Heyward has been on the DL since April 23, a day after undergoing emergency appendectomy surgery. On Monday, Heyward said he felt good enough to take BP a day earlier than planned.

Third baseman Juan Francisco was listed as day-to-day after leaving Friday's game with a mild right ankle sprain. Francisco suffered the injury in the third inning and has not played since that 7-5 loss at the New York Mets. Francisco was batting .294 with four homers and 12 RBIs in 21 games prior to the injury. The Braves have depth at third with Chris Johnson, who made his 14th start at 3B on Monday.

Right-handed pitcher Kris Medlen made his first career start against Cincinnati on Tuesday in a game that ended too late for this edition. His four prior appearances against the Reds were in relief. For his career, Medlen has a 3.00 ERA against them, having allowed one earned run on four hits in three innings. Tuesday's outing was Medlen's seventh start this season, and 37th of his career.