Braves’ Beckham homers off Nats lefty Gonzalez

VIERA, Fla. – Gordon Beckham had two hits Sunday against the Nationals including his first home run of the spring, and also probably earned himself a spot in the lineup for the second game of the regular season.

The Braves open with a two-game home series against the Nationals April 4 and April 6, facing Max Scherzer in the opener and left-hander Gio Gonzalez in Game 2. Beckham’s two hits Sunday came in three at-bats against Gonzalez, a first-inning homer pulled hard to left field and a fifth-inning single.

Beckham went 2-for-4 to raise his spring average to .323 (10-for-31) with four extra-base hits, seven walks, five strikeouts and a .920 OPS.

“I told Seitz to make sure that Beckham’s in the lineup when Gonzalez pitches,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “I think it’s the second day (of the season). He had some pretty good at-bats against him.”

Beckham has only six regular-season plate appearances against Gonzalez, going 1-for-5 with a walk and a strikeout.

Fredi Gonzalez has previously mentioned resting second baseman Jace Peterson against some left-handers and using Beckham, though he said this week he didn’t plan to open with Peterson in a straight platoon.

“Beckham can play all three positions in the infield, you feel comfortable (using him),” Gonzalez said of the veteran, who plays every infield position except first base.

Beckham and backup-outfield candidate Jeff Francoeur had half of the Braves’ 10 hits in Sunday’s 7-2 loss, with Francoeur going 3-for-4 with three singles to raise his average to .326 with two doubles, one home run and an .827 OPS.

Francoeur has given himself a good shot at winning one of the final roster spots, as discussed in this blog last week.

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