Second base remains in shuffle mode for Braves


Second base remains in shuffle mode for Braves

Tyler Pastornicky was back in the Braves lineup at second base Sunday for the first time since straining a calf muscle on May 17, and the forecast for the position was no clearer.

His calf was healed for a couple of days but Fredi Gonzalez was waiting for a good matchup for Pastornicky, who got the start against Rockies left-hander Franklin Morales.

Ramiro Pena started four of the previous second games and Dan Uggla, the former full-time starter, was in the lineup for the other three in that stretch, his only starts in 17 games. Gonzalez sounded again as if he planned to continue using Pastornicky and utility infielder Pena for the majority of second-base starts for the immediate future.

As a group, Braves second basemen ranked 29th in the majors in average (.174), on-base percentage (.253) and slugging percentage (.263) before Sunday.

Pastornicky has done better with increased playing time, going 5-for-13 with a walk and a .429 OBP in his past five games (four starts) before Sunday, when he misplayed a second-inning grounder.

“It doesn’t really have to be a straight platoon, it could (depend on) the opposing pitcher,” Gonzalez said. “If we feel like Tyler can handle a (particular) right-hander or Pena can handle a left-hander, we’ll do it that way. When I say mix-and-match, it’s not a straight right/left platoon.”

And Uggla?

“Wherever we feel like we’ve got a good matchup, run him in there,” Gonzalez said Sunday.

The problem was that both the right-handed Pastornicky and switch-hitting Pena have struggled in limited at-bats against right-handers. Pena was 4-for-10 against lefties and 7-for-50 (.140) against right-handers before Sunday. Pastornicky was 6-for-14 against lefties and 1-for-16 against righties.

Uggla was batting .177 overall with two homers and a .248 on-base percentage in 113 at-bats, including 4-for-19 vs. lefties and 16-for-94 (.170) with 31 strikeouts against righties. He was 4-for-44 (.091) with no extra-base hits or RBIs in his past 15 games.

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