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Posted: 6:15 p.m. Saturday, July 12, 2014

When he plays, no one as proficient a base-stealer as Schafer

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By David O'Brien

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

CHICAGO — Of the 27 major leaguers with more stolen bases then Jordan Schafer before Saturday, most had four or times as many at-bats as Schafer and all had at least twice as many.

Schafer stolen three bases Friday to give him 14 for the season, one behind team leader B.J. Upton, who had 15 steals and 342 at-bats before Saturday. Schafer had just 68 at-bats before Saturday, and Friday was only his second start in the past 20 games.

Among the 27 players with 15 or more stolen bases before Saturday, the only two with fewer than 200 at-bats were Oakland’s Craig Gentry, who had 16 steals and 174 at-bats, and Kansas City’s Jarrod Dyson with 17 steals and 143 at-bats.

“He gets on three times, on an error and two walks, and steals three bases and gives us that spark, the energy in the leadoff spot,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “It’ one thing to steal a base, but it’s another thing to steal a base when everybody in the whole ballpark knows (including) the other manager and the pitcher and the catcher, and you still pull it off. That’s impressive.”

When Schafer was caught trying to steal third base in the first inning Friday, the only time he’s been caught in 15 attempts this season. Of the major leaguers with as many or more stolen bases as Schafer, only four have been caught stealing fewer than two times and Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen (15 steals) was the only one who had not been caught at least once.

“Sometimes you get guys steal 25-30 bases and (lot of them) are the back end of a double steal or nobody’s paying attention to you,” Gonzalez said. “When (Schafer) doesn’t play and we pinch-run him in the ninth with one or two outs, guess what? (Everybody knows) he’s going to go.”

Schafer matched his career high with three steals Friday. He was caught stealing third on an ill-advised attempt in the first inning with one out and left-handed hitter Freddie Freeman batting. Schafer has the green light from his manager and was running on his own in that situation.

“He told me, ‘My instincts told me not to go,’” Gonzalez said. “If you watch him on (video), he kind of stopped a little bit, and then he kept going. Usually if he doesn’t get that (good jump) he doesn’t go. And maybe that was just that he hasn’t played in a while. Anyway, it’s nice to be able to inject him in there every once in a while and give you that stuff.”

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