Center field continues to be problematic spot for Braves

Braves outfielder Cristian Pache hits a double against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, his only hit since May 4.  (Curtis Compton /

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

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Braves outfielder Cristian Pache hits a double against the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, his only hit since May 4. (Curtis Compton /

Credit: Curtis Compton / Curtis.Compton@

The Braves’ revolving door in center field continued to turn, with rookie Cristian Pache going on the 10-day injured list and veteran Ender Inciarte returning from a rehabilitation assignment.

The moves, officially made Friday, were forecast by manager Brian Snitker after Pache left Thursday’s game with an injury, described by the Braves as right hamstring inflammation.

This is Pache’s second stint on the injured list this season and the fourth by a Braves center fielder.

Inciarte was on the injured list for almost a month with a strained left hamstring. Guillermo Heredia remains on the IL, also with a hamstring injury.

“I think it’s just a big coincidence that the three center fielders have had a hamstring injury,” Inciarte said Friday.

“It’s just all the injuries in general in baseball,” Snitker said. “I can’t point a finger to anything. Outfielders have gone in pairs around here, it seems like, when they go. I don’t know. Seems like everybody (in MLB) is battling injuries and taxing their depth in their organizations.”

Inciarte started in center field Friday night as the Braves opened a three-game series at Milwaukee, his first major-league game since going on the injured list April 17.

“I just hope I can do everything I can to stay healthy, and anytime I get an opportunity try to take advantage of it,” Inciarte said. “This is a team trying to win a championship, and I just want to be part of it.”

The Braves have gotten little production at the plate – a cumulative .203 batting average – from their center fielders this season.

Pache, 22, is hitting .111 (7-for-63), including one hit in 27 at-bats since May 4. He began the season as the starting center fielder, but struggled on offense from the outset -- as he also did in spring training -- before going on the injured list April 14 with a strained left groin.

When Pache was ready to return from that IL stint April 24, the Braves optioned him to the alternate training site at Gwinnett to work on his hitting. A week later, the injuries to Inciarte and Heredia forced the team to recall Pache, who is ranked by as baseball’s No. 11 overall prospect mainly because of his defense.

Pache hit a grand slam in his first plate appearance upon returning from Gwinnett in a May 1 game against the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, Fla., but he has only two hits in 32 at-bats since the slam.

Inciarte, 30, was hitting .091 (1-for-11) through April 13 but had four hits in six at-bats April 14-16 to raise his batting average to .294 before going on the injured list. “I was feeling really, really good ... and when (the injury) happened, it’s frustrating because you just want to play,” he said.

Inciarte was sent to the Triple-A Gwinnett team on a rehabilitation assignment last week and hit .190 (4-for-21 with seven strikeouts and one walk) there. He hit .190 for the Braves last season.

The most offensive production the Braves have gotten from the center-field position this season came during a stretch of 11 consecutive games started by the 30-year-old Heredia from April 17-29. He was an early-season surprise with a .300 batting average (12-for-40), two home runs, an OPS of 1.004 and four multi-hit games before going on the injured list May 1 because of right hamstring inflammation.

Heredia will continue his rehabilitation by playing for Gwinnett this weekend, Snitker said.

“He’s feeling good,” Snitker said. “He has run the bases, done everything. It’ll just be building him up now.”

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