The Braves made headlines today by calling up AAA second baseman Tommy La Stella to their major league team and sending Tyler Pastornicky back down to AAA Gwinnett. La Stella has been hitting over .300 in the minor leagues. He does not hit for power, but he also rarely strikes out. He bats left handed and is a good fielder. The combination of Dan Uggla, Ramiro Pena, and Pastornicky at second base has just not been working this year. The Braves have finally lost patience with Uggla as his average has remained under .200, he strikes out every 3rd at-bat, he is not hitting HRs or even getting walks this year. Atlanta does not want to pay his massive contract to do nothing so he will remain on the team but it appears his role will be greatly reduced. I guess he will get a rare start at 2nd to give guys a day off and maybe occasionally come off bench late as pinch-hitter. Neither Pena nor Pastornicky have been impressive at the plate this year. Pena is more versatile in that he can play more positions than Pastornicky so Tyler was the odd man out. I have never been impressed with Pastornicky’s fielding abilities–he was terrible at short and I’ve seen him misplay several balls this week at second (two last night that were scored hits, but…)
So to all the Braves fans that were screaming for them to bring up La Stella, you have gotten your wish! It is probably a good move but just because you hit in the minors does not mean you will hit in the majors (Brad Komminsk, anyone? There is a reason that I am not sure I am spelling his name right!) La Stella sounds like he would be perfect as a number 2 hitter–hits for average, doesn’t strike out. Not so fast, my friend! I never thought I would say this, but B.J. Upton is actually hitting well in the 2 hole. Since Freddie Gonzalez put B.J. at number 2, he has been getting hits, walks, hitting the ball hard and has dramatically cut down on his strikeouts. I don’t know if it will last but he actually looks like he has got it figured out. So I say leave B.J. there for now. If he starts striking out as much as he was before, then look into putting La Stella at number 2.
Tonight’s lineup: 1)Heyward RF 2)B.J. Upton CF 3)Freeman 1B 4)J.Upton LF 5)Johnson 3B 6)Doumit DH 7)La Stella 2B 8)Laird C 9)Pena SS
Andrelton Simmons is not starting due to a tweaked ankle that is hopefully not serious, day-to-day. Evan Gattis is still out after injuring his wrist while taking batting practice the other night. That one worries me a bit more as it is hard to hit with a bad wrist. I hope that the Braves are just being cautious and he will be back in lineup soon.
Pitching matchup: Braves RH Gavin Floyd vs Red Sox RH John Lackey
Standings: Braves remain in 1st place at 28-23 (.549) with Marlins 1.5 games back, Nats 3.0 games back, Mets 4.5 games back, and Phillies 5.0 games back.
Go Braves! ,