Jordan Schafer is making the most of his opportunities to play while Jason Heyward is on the disabled list recovering from an emergency appendectomy.
Schafer was the catalyst in Monday’s win over the Nationals, reaching base four times from the leadoff spot, and was hitting .346 on the season when he got back in the starting lineup Wednesday night in right field.
Taking advantage is something Schafer acknowledges he didn’t do last year with an every-day chance to play in Houston. The Astros waived him after he hit .211 in 106 games.
“You only get so many opportunities and I mean I kind of, excuse my words, but (dumped) on the other one,” Schafer said. “It’s about time I take advantage of an opportunity. I’m just going out there and having fun and let the game come to me.”
That’s showing in his approach as well. Schafer walked three times on Monday night and was sporting a .485 on-base percentage.
“Sometimes when I was younger in certain situations I tried to force stuff to happen,” Schafer said. “’I need to get a hit here’ instead of just ‘Hey, if you doesn’t throw me a pitch I can get a hit with, or I can put a good swing on, I can’t swing.’ I can’t try to swing at something out of the zone just to try to make something happen. I have to take the walk or bunt the guy over and let the guys behind me do their job.”
Schafer, 26, is frank about his desire to become an everyday player again in his career but said he’s “extremely” happy being back with the Braves.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room with an outfield of Justin Upton, B.J. Upton and Heyward.
“There’s not a bigger role, so he’s got to be doing what he’s doing right now,” Gonzalez said. “But I like him in this role a lot. Now he’s going to get some opportunities with Jason out. I like him as a part-time player, give somebody a day off here and there.
“He may be the best (outfielder) defender we have, him and Jason. Just as a pure outfield defender, if you grade all his tools - speed, catching the ball, and throwing. And he’s a guy who can steal you a base when you need to steal a base. That’s a good guy to have.”