Braves rookie Castro to get more starts at 2B rest of way

With Jace Peterson struggling for and rookie callup Daniel Castro impressing in limited duty, the Braves plan to get a better look at Castro during the final weeks of the season.

Castro got the start at second base Tuesday for the third time in the past four games, and manager Fredi Gonzalez indicated he would use a platoon arrangement with Peterson and Castro at that position the rest of the season, with Castro facing mostly left-handers.

“I’d like to see as many guys as we can, and that’s a good way of seeing people,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said of the platoon possibility. “I know we’ve got another lefty tomorrow, and then we’ll see where it goes.”

The Braves faced a lefty (Mark Buehrle) in Tuesday’s series opener against the Blue Jays, and face another Wednesday in Toronto ace David Price.

Castro hit .302 in 55 plate appearances over his first 20 major league games before Tuesday, including 7-for-20 (.350) against left-handers with two doubles and a home run. He made his 12th start Tuesday and fourth at second base (he also started seven games at shortstop and one at third base).

“Good for him that we’ve got (to face) some left-handers, and I’ve put him in and he’s done well,” Gonzalez said. “He can play shortstop, he can play second base, he’s got a nice clock, he gives you good at-bats. He’s getting an opportunity to play in the big leagues and he’s doing great, he really is.”

Gonzalez was referring to Castro’s internal clock, a characteristic that Gonzalez has often pointed to as one of things that separates Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons from other defenders. It involves factors such as knowing the speed of a base runner and how much to put on throws, how quickly a throw needs to be made, whether it needs to be rushed or if the fielder has time to set up before firing to a base.

Castro, 22, hit .295 with a .335 OBP and 14 doubles in 112 minor league games this season in Double-A and Triple-A. He sounds as if he’s playing himself into consideration for next year’s roster, as a utility player or possibly even a bigger role.

“He doesn’t run real fast. He doesn’t have much power,” Gonzlaez said. “But (scouts and minor league officials) go, ‘Fredi, this guy’s got great instincts, great clock, and he makes all the plays.’ Everybody in that room (at team meetings) goes, ‘This guy can really play shortstop.’ I like him at second. He’s done well there, also. He’s got a knack.

“Again, he’s a tad below (average as a runner). His arm strength’s below average. I think if you play him at shortstop a lot you’ll see the arm strength’s not quite there. But he doesn’t have to play there every day. You want to give Simmons a day off, run him out there for a couple of days, he’s fine.”

Peterson had a .239 average, .313 OBP and .336 slugging percentage in 137 games (494 at-bats before Tuesday, including .198 (20-for-101) with a .243 OBP and .287 slugging percentage against lefties. After a stellar 50-game stretch from late April through late June, Peterson had batted only .200 in his past 72 games before Tuesday, with 20 RBIs, four stolen bases and a .269 OBP and .291 slugging percentage in that period.