AJC Q&A: Braves third baseman Austin Riley

Over three weeks into May, the Braves have yet to find their groove and make up ground in the National League East standings. The Braves enter Tuesday’s game against the Phillies at 19-23, nine games back of the first-place New York Mets, and without a single series sweep.

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The underperforming lineup has been one culprit for the sluggish start. Though outfielder Ronald Acuña has returned to the lineup and impressed in the leadoff spot, the rest of the Braves’ bats have been quiet in May. The Braves have a .221 batting average this month, with stars Matt Olson and Austin Riley both hitting under .200. Manager Brian Snitker rearranged the lineup ahead of Monday’s series opener against the Philadelphia Phillies, but saw similar results in a 7-3 loss.

Before the Braves’ second game against the Phillies, Riley discussed possible changes to his approach going forward and his hopes for the coming stretch.

Q: For May so far, how would you assess the lineup’s performance?

A: We’ve had days where we’ve clicked and days where we haven’t. That’s the biggest thing, is trying to find our consistency day in and day out. We’re putting in the time, putting in the work in the cages. It’s just a matter of sticking to our plan until we can get this thing rolling.

Q: Do you think it’s a matter of changing the approach or that hits aren’t finding the field?

A: For me personally, I think I could be a little more selective with my approach versus just trying to swing at strikes. I also feel like some days, we’re barreling balls out there, and they’re right at guys. You can try to put your finger on every little thing, it’s just a matter of being more consistent on a daily basis.

Q: Does it feel like a breakthrough is right around the corner?

A: I definitely think so. When things aren’t going good, you try to put your finger on it. (Coach Ron Washington) talks about it all the time, stick with the plan, trust in your work. I do feel like at some point here soon we’re going to get things rolling.

Q: Having so many guys with a track record of terrific hitting, how much confidence does that give you that the lineup can heat up?

A: Our lineup is really good. It really is. It’s just a matter of all of us getting going and getting on the same page at once. One through nine, we have a lot of potential.

Q: A huge change has been having Ronald (Acuña) back in the lineup. What has he brought the last couple weeks?

A: He’s one of those guys that changes a lineup days that he may not have hits. He just gets on base, he’ll steal second and next thing you know he’s in scoring position. That’s huge.

Q: After going against some of the top teams the last couple weeks, how exciting is the upcoming stretch of manageable games as an opportunity to get going?

A: I think it’s good. You see guys like (Sandy) Alcantara, (Corbin) Burnes, (Trevor) Rogers, you’re seeing the elite of arms on a daily basis. You’re grinding, especially when things aren’t going well. This stretch, hopefully it gets us going.