After struggles at 3B, Garcia sent to Triple-A to focus on LF

When manager Fredi Gonzalez brought Adonis Garcia into his office Friday and told him the Braves were sending him to Triple-A to play left field — not third base and left field, just left field — it sounds as if the player didn’t exactly embrace the idea.

Garcia was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett after Friday’s game to open a roster spot for outfielder Ender Inciarte.

“One of the things I talked to him about yesterday was going to play left,” Gonzalez said. “Don’t worry about third base right now, go play left field. I think he’s a guy you need his bat in the lineup, right-handed bat off the bench — he can swing the bat. Just go down and play left field.”

Garcia’s response?

“His words were, ‘I worked all winter playing third base, and I feel like I’m a pretty good third baseman,’” Gonzalez said. “That’s fine. I’ve got no problems with guys being confident and all that. I think what’s best for us and for his future, really, is for him to play the outfield.”

Considering Garcia’s defense at third base, it’s hard to argue otherwise. He’s been the worst defensive third baseman in the majors this season by most standard measures.

He had seven errors in 21 games at third base, and his .837 fielding percentage was 80 points lower than the next-worst among 27 major league third basemen with enough innings to qualify before Saturday.

Garcia had a minus-0.5 defensive WAR at third base, one of only three lower than minus-0.3 dWAR among of the 97 players who’ve played any third base this season.

Although Garcia had played only four games in left field this season, he also had a minus-0.5 dWAR at that position, tied for the worst among 114 players who spent any time in left field this season.

Meanwhile, Garcia’s offense hasn’t met expectations, either. He hit .260 with one homer, eight RBIs, 23 strikeouts and a .319 OBP and .308 slugging percentage in 28 games, and in his last 10 games he was 7-for-41 (.171) with a double, two RBIs, one walk and 10 strikeouts.