WASHINGTON — The Braves are bringing up veteran utility man Phil Gosselin to provide depth on their roster, but this does not change their plans to replace the injured Ozzie Albies.
The club placed Albies on the 60-day injured list Tuesday, which freed a 40-man roster spot for Gosselin. But this situation probably is more about Orlando Arcia.
Arcia now will receive everyday playing time as the Braves’ starting second baseman after Albies fractured his left foot during Monday’s win over the Nationals. Before that injury, Arcia had been the only backup infielder on the Braves’ active roster.
“I think this is a situation that no ballplayer wants to find themselves in,” Arcia said through interpreter Franco García before Tuesday’s game. “I don’t think anyone wants to play under these circumstances. But I think we’re all here for a reason. That’s to support each other in every situation throughout the year. For me, I just got to do my best to replicate what Ozzie was doing. That was just going out there and giving 100 percent on every play for the team.”
In a small sample size, Arcia is batting .313 with an .851 OPS and eight RBIs to this point. Arcia has played second base only three times in a career that began in 2016, but he’s primarily been a shortstop. His strong arm should help the club, and he’s believed to have upside in the field.
Arcia expects finding a rhythm to be easier now that he will be playing every day. He will try to continue what he’s done at the plate to this point.
“Focus,” he said. “Just continue to focus on every pitch. I think that’s the key for any hitter during an at-bat.”
The Braves have not yet provided a timetable for Albies’ return, but the team’s decision to immediately place Albies on the 60-day injured list also states the obvious: The Braves are planning for him to miss at least two months.
The Braves don’t yet know if Albies will require surgery. They are trying to work out those details after Albies’ X-rays revealed the foot fracture.
Gosselin is seen as a great clubhouse guy. He can play multiple defensive positions – primarily second base, third base and left field – but doesn’t play any particularly well. He knows manager Brian Snitker well, but this was not the reason the club brought him up instead of its other options at Triple-A Gwinnett.
Gosselin’s role with the Braves is that of someone who probably won’t play unless there is an injury somewhere else. The Braves already had trouble finding playing time for Arcia, who had taken only 48 at-bats before Albies fractured his foot. Guillermo Heredia, another backup, has had only 51 at-bats.
Gosselin said Snitker told him to be ready for anything. He’s accustomed to the role he’ll play for the Braves.
“I think now, I have more confidence in myself than I ever have,” Gosselin said. “Just being older, being around. …I think you’re a little more unsure of yourself when you first get up and you’re not playing all the time. In the minor leagues, you play every day, but I’m used to not playing every day up here, so that experience of that helps out too.”
The right-handed-hitting Gosselin has hit .278 with a .722 OPS versus lefties over his career, but the Braves don’t often hit for any of their starters. And even if they did, they would probably use Travis d’Arnaud, William Contreras or Marcell Ozuna (depending on who isn’t starting that day). Arcia made the team over Gosselin this spring and will be the starting second baseman for now.
The 26th man on the roster must be a great clubhouse guy who accepts his role. Gosselin is believed to be that. He made his MLB debut with the Braves in 2013 and has played for seven teams. Last season, he hit .261 with a .676 OPS over 345 at-bats for the Angels.
Over 49 games with Triple-A Gwinnett this season, Gosselin was batting .297 with an .831 OPS. He has hit eight home runs and has 24 RBIs. He has 40 strikeouts in 182 at-bats.
In the fifth inning Monday, Albies fell to the ground after taking an awkward swing that resulted in a slow grounder to the shortstop. Albies got up and limped back to the dugout.
Albies is batting .244 with a .694 OPS this season. Still, he is an important part of the Braves’ lineup. He has won two Silver Slugger Awards and has twice been named an All-Star.
“As a teammate, (he’s) amazing,” Arcia said. “Obviously as a second baseman, it’s awesome what he does out there. It’s on us to show him that we can pick him up and that we can do what he’s done for us in return. We’ll be eagerly awaiting his return.”
Gosselin’s long 24 hours
Gosselin spent Monday, an off-day for Triple-A Gwinnett, in Nashville. He eventually got a call: Albies had suffered an injury, and the Braves needed him.
Gosselin had a rental car because he had planned to drive back to Gwinnett regardless. He arrived in Gwinnett at 4 a.m. Tuesday and slept on the clubhouse couch for a few hours. He then got his stuff, headed for the airport and flew to Washington.
He took a nap in the hotel before arriving at the ballpark.
Lots of homers
During their 13-game winning streak, the Braves have hit 32 home runs. That’s the most in the majors over that span.
The Braves slugged five homers on Monday, then hit five more on Tuesday.
“We’ve got guys with history of having a lot of power,” Snitker said before Tuesday’s game. “You kind of hope they get it going because they can do damage like they have been, when it does go.”
Harris is eager to learn
Following Monday’s win, Dansby Swanson mentioned that Michael Harris, the sensational rookie, has been willing to soak up anything.
Harris wants to learn more and more.
“It helps,” Snitker said. “Some guys don’t. Some guys feel like they have all the answers. I don’t think Michael does by any stretch. So it’s good. It’ll help his development.”