DENVER -- Tyler Pastornicky's return to the Braves roster came on less than ideal conditions. He got a late night call Monday night and flew into cold and snowy Denver early Tuesday morning in time for a split doubleheader, with temperatures ranging from 23 to 30 degrees. He also pinch-hit on Wednesday, flying out to lead off the 12th inning.
It's not the best situation to come off the bench for the first time of the season, but the infielder, up from Triple-A after Jason Heyward was placed on the disabled list, was happy to be back with the club he played 76 games for in 2012, starting as the Opening Day shortstop.
"I was born and raised in Florida, so I never had to deal with any kind of temperature like that," Pastornicky said of his pinch-hit fly out in Game 2. "It was definitely an experience. I put a good swing on the ball. It was fun to get up there and get an at-bat the first day I was here. I'm ready to help the team."
Pastornicky's performance at Triple-A Gwinnett confirms his readiness. In 18 games to start the season, he hit .351 (26-for-74) with six doubles, one homer, and seven RBIs.
"I had a great spring, and it just kind of carried over from there with my confidence," Pastornicky said, noting that he's made no changes in his approach or mechanics at the plate. "The biggest thing that I've changed is the confidence thing, knowing that I can play here and going through what I did last year, and having fun -- not putting so much pressure on myself. Last year, I put too much pressure on myself. It kind of limited what I could do when I was out there, rather than going out there and having fun. That's what I tried to do in spring, and it worked, and it's working in Triple-A."
During Spring Training and at Triple-A, Pastornicky has been making a transition from shortstop to second base, starting 14 games at second, two at short, and two as a designated hitter.
"Second's come pretty easy to me," Pastornicky said. "Especially coming from short. Short's a tough position. Any time you move to a position coming from short it's going to seem a little easier. It's definitely been good. I think I've made the transition pretty well."
The biggest challenge has been working with a variety of double-play partners through Grapefruit League and Triple-A, staying flexible and being ready to adapt in situations that have been consistently changing.
"You have to get used to it," Pastornicky said. "Everyone likes a different feed. Everyone likes the ball thrown to a different spot. You just kind of feel each other out and learn each other's tendencies and go from there."
What was new in Spring Training was getting some game experience in the outfield.
"It was actually my first inning I've ever played ever, my whole life, in the outfield," Pastonicky said. "I think I ended up playing maybe seven or eight innings. It went well. I made a couple plays. I did a lot of early work last year, and I continue to do a lot of early work, so I felt prepared. If I need to get out there, I will. It's not an issue.
"If you can play a lot of positions, hopefully they'll find a place for you."
Heyward released from hospital after appendectomy
DENVER -- Jason Heyward checked out of Rose Medical Center in Denver on Tuesday following his emergency appendectomy performed there Monday evening.
Wednesday morning he sent a tweet to fans, thanking everyone for the good wishes they've been sending him.
"I'm fortunate enough that the surgery I needed was nothing more serious than removing something that we as ppl don't need to live anyway," Heyward wrote. "Although there's a little discomfort it won't last. And there are ppl that have surgery to remove things that are far more life threatening than an appendix.
"For those concerned, I'm as comfortable as I can be recovering. Resting up and I'll be back to work as soon as it's smart to do so."
Heyward will be returning to Atlanta from Denver to recuperate as soon as doctors clear him to fly. He's eligible to come off the DL on Monday, May 6 in Cincinnati.
Freeman feeling good in return from DL
DENVER -- In his first day back from the disabled list, Braves cleanup hitter Freddie Freeman was on base four times and scored two runs.
It's a good day no matter how you look at it, and the fact that he was 1-for-6 with three walks playing both ends of a doubleheader should only confirm Freeman's good health as he comes back from a strained right oblique. He was right back in the lineup on Wednesday, and had an RBI double and scored a run.
"I'm good -- everything felt great," Freeman said before Wednesday's game. "Obviously I wouldn't have come back if I wasn't. Usually you can't come back in two weeks, but I guess we got it under control real quick and I feel great. It was nice to win a couple games and we got back on the winning side."
The conditions weren't ideal, with a Game 1 temperature of 23 degrees and a high of 30 in late afternoon. There was still snow on the pines in center field when Juan Francisco launched a ball into the seats with Freeman on base.
"The conditions held up, so it's all fine," Freeman said. "I felt great. I saw a lot of pitches, walked three times, got a hit, scored a couple runs, so I feel good and I'm just happy to be back."
Freeman had two fly outs in the first game, and a grounder, a strikeout, and a liner to third in the second game. His single in Game 1 was a shot to center. It was a good sample of at-bats to test him on a long, cold day at Coors Field.
Gattis enjoyed his return to Colorado
DENVER -- When Evan Gattis launched his sixth homer of the season in Game 1 of Tuesday's doubleheader, it was a homecoming of sorts. Gattis spent seven months living in nearby Boulder, splitting his time between working as a lift operator at the Eldora Mountain ski resort and at Nick 'n' Willy's pizza shop.
The homer gave Gattis at least one home run in each of the five parks he's played in since making his big league debut in the second game of the season. He went 2-for-9 in the two games he played during the three-game set. When asked whether his time at the top of a ski lift helped him prepare for Tuesday's record-breaking low temperatures (20 degrees at the first pitch of Game 1), he acknowledged a comfort level in Colorado.
"I always feel good at altitude, I don't know why," Gattis said. "I always felt like I was built for altitude. I like the way my body feels here for some reason."
Gattis first came to Colorado to visit his sister, who worked in an outdoor program for troubled youth a little north of Boulder, and he had a hard time leaving once he'd spent some time in the area.
"My mom bought me a plane ticket out here to come visit, and I went home and said I got to move here," Gattis said. "I just absolutely fell in love with the place. I cruised around and went to Gold Hill, Jamestown, Nederland. I really just fell in love with the place."
Once he made the move, his work at local hotspots like Eldora and the original Nick 'n' Willy's gave him a quick indoctrination to the Boulder culture. He joined the ranks of commuters who thumbed their way up and down Boulder Canyon en route to the nearby ski mountain.
"I'd hitchhike to work all the time, and there was this one lady that picked me up pretty regularly," he said. "A lot of musicians come out of Nederland, a whole bunch. It's a cool place. Very relaxed."
Gattis has looked at home in Colorado, welcoming his mother, aunt, twin sisters, and a host of friends from Dallas, as he's continued staking out turf in his first tour of big league ballparks.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.