The Braves boasted one of the best benches in majors the first two months of the season, but injuries are taking a toll. The Braves placed Jordan Schafer on the disabled list Thursday with a right ankle contusion, where he joins both Evan Gattis (oblique) and Ramiro Pena (season-ending shoulder surgery.)
Schafer was the last left-handed hitter on the Braves bench, so the Braves called up switch-hitter Joey Terdoslavich from Triple-A Gwinnett trying to fill that void.
“We needed a left-handed bat,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “(Ernesto) Mejia was an option but we had so many right-handed bats that Terdo makes sense. (He’s a) switch-hitter but we need a left-hander.”
Terdoslavich, who earned his first major-league call-up, was hitting .318 in 85 games for Gwinnett, with 24 doubles, one triple, 18 home runs and 58 RBIs in 85 games.
Gonzalez indicated Terdoslavich’s primary role will be as a bat off the bench. He can play either corner outfield position, and has played some at first base and third base, but he’s mostly likely to play outfield, where his defense is “just OK,” Gonzalez said.
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Schafer, who might be the Braves’ best defensive outfielder, has had difficulty running on a sore ankle, which he injured Wednesday, June 26, in Kansas City fouling a ball off it. Schafer rested for five days but still had some fluid build-up near his Achilles and was hobbled in a pair of pinch-hit at-bats in games against the Marlins Tuesday and Wednesday.
Schafer did not appear to be happy about the decision to go on the DL, declining comment Thursday afternoon. He had indicated on Twitter he wasn’t happy about learning of the decision on Twitter as well.
Gonzalez said if they had it to do over, they wouldn’t have hit Schafer in the first two games of the Marlins series. But either way, he thought Schafer might need the full 15 days from Thursday to recover.
“We thought it was getting better and then yesterday the way he ran to first base it was like, ‘Why put him through that stuff?’” Gonzalez said. “Let him get healed and let him not have to worry about it, or me worry about (whether to) play him not play him or when you can pinch hit him and use him.”
Terdoslavich, a sixth round pick in 2010, is known for his hitting stroke. He broke a 65-year-old Carolina League record when he hit 52 doubles for Single-A Lynchburg in 2011.
He was seen as a possible heir apparent to Chipper Jones at third base, but his transition to third base the following season didn’t go well after the Braves promoted him directly to Triple-A Gwinnett. He was sent down to Double-A Mississippi where he moved to first base and began smoothing out his mechanics, hitting .315 in 78 games.
The Braves moved Terdoslavich to the outfield this spring and he continued his good work at the plate. He hit .395 in 26 games in major league camp, with four doubles, one homer and eight RBIs.
Terdoslavich was selected to play in the Futures Game Sunday and the Triple-A All-Star game July 17. He won’t play in the Futures Game and is doubtful for the Triple-A one as well, but that didn’t stop him from having a little fun with his father late Wednesday night.
“I told him that I rolled my ankle,” Terdoslavich said. “He’s like ‘Oh man, are you going to be able to play in the All-Star game?’ I said ‘No… It’s because I’m going to the big leagues.’”
Terdoslavich’s father, Joe Terdoslavich I, first put a bat in his hand before he was 1 year old and hit with his son nearly every day of his childhood.
“He’s been the guy that got me to this point, helped me every day for the last 23, 24 years,” Terdoslavich said. “So that was awesome I got to share that with him.”
His father saw the weather report Thursday in Atlanta and decided to fly from his home in Sarasota, Fla. directly to Philadelphia where the Braves will play this weekend. Then he’ll join follow the team to Miami, only three hours from where Terdoslavich went to Sarasota High.
That’s also where Terdoslavich spent much of this past offseason working with one of his former high school coaches on his outfield defense.
“The guy that I train with told me you need to go out to the high school field and you need to act like you’re a sophomore trying to make varsity,” Terdoslavich said. “I just took that approach with him and seemed to work out and pay off.”