B.J. Upton was back in the Braves lineup Wednesday night for only the seventh time in the past 15 games. In that time, the Braves have gone 3-3 in games he’s started. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has been picking his spots to play the struggling Upton.
“Get him in there, get him some at-bats too,” Gonzalez said of Upton joining the returning Dan Uggla in the lineup Wednesday. “Boy, if we can get those two guys going in the right direction, we’ll be really, really good.”
Upton, who signed a five-year $75.25 million contract with the Braves this winter, was hitting only .182 entering Wednesday night.
One player who understands how difficult it is to switch leagues after signing a free agent contract is Michael Bourn, who is in his first season with the Cleveland Indians. Upton’s predecessor in center field for the Braves signed a four-year $48 million contract this offseason with Cleveland.
“The National League East has (some) of the toughest pitching there is, especially with (Stephen) Strasburg, Gio (Gonzalez), all those players with (Jose) Fernandez in Miami coming on,” said Bourn, who like Upton had played his entire career in the other league . “So the first time going through it, it’s going to be tough. I knew that even coming into the American League, you’re going to go through a whole period of time where you’re going to face a lot of pitchers you don’t know….
“(Teammates) give me tips on what this dude is doing, what this dude has. It helps me, but at the same time you like to see it for yourself.”
Bourn, who is hitting .268 on the season, has been caught 10 times in 29 stolen base attempts, another adjustment he’s had to make while learning new pitchers. Bourn went 1-for-5 with a single Tuesday night in his first game back against his former team.
“I had fun while I was here,” said Bourn, who keeps up with former teammates like Jason Heyward. “We had a good team both years I was here. We had a good camaraderie on our team. I enjoyed it.”
Walden nursing leg injury
Gonzalez acknowledged Wednesday that he’s been resting reliever Jordan Walden because of some “leg issues,” and left it at that. Walden hasn’t pitched since going two innings during the Braves 10-inning win in New York a week ago. Gonzalez said he didn’t think Walden would be out much longer than another day or two.
“We’ll throw him a little bullpen today, a little side, see how he feels,” Gonzalez said. “But I don’t think it’s anything lingering.”
Wood hot month:
Alex Wood used 5 2/3 scoreless innings Tuesday night against the Indians to lower his ERA for the month of August to 0.90 which is the third-lowest ERA for a rookie starting pitcher in August since 1955, according to Stats LLC. Wood, who has given up three earned runs in 30 innings in five August starts, trails only Milwaukee’s Cal Eldred (0.61 in 1992) and Miami’s Jose Fernandez (0.82 this season). Fernandez, the 21-year-old Cuban sensation, will make his first start against the Braves this Friday night at Turner Field against Julio Teheran.
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