Albies not worried about rumors, focused on call up to Braves

Gwinnett Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies (1) before an at-bat against the Toledo Mud Hens during their game at Coolray Field Thursday, May 11, 2017, in Lawrenceville, Ga. PHOTO / JASON GETZ

Gwinnett Braves second baseman Ozzie Albies (1) before an at-bat against the Toledo Mud Hens during their game at Coolray Field Thursday, May 11, 2017, in Lawrenceville, Ga. PHOTO / JASON GETZ

Ozzie Albies knows his time is close, but he’s not stressing over it.

“People talk to me about it,” he said. “But I’m not focusing on whatever people say. There’s a lot of stuff going on. I’m just relaxing, waiting. Just keep doing my thing every day.

“I want to be there. It comes to my mind. So I just need to relax and play.”

The Triple-A Gwinnett second baseman missed time with a bruised foot, but since coming off the disabled list June 13, his bat has taken it up a notch. Albies has hit .333 since being reactivated.

In 84 games entering Tuesday, Albies has proved his versatility. He’s batting .289, best on the team. He’s tied for the International League lead in triples (eight), while placing second in hits (103) and at-bats (357). He’s third in steals (21) and runs (60).

All that at 20-years-young.

“I don’t care about age,” he said. “It’s whenever I’m ready I’m going to go and do it.”

That ripe age hasn’t stopped Albies from emerging as a team leader. He’s also taken on a mentor role for the 19-year-old Ronald Acuna, who’s ascending the system even quicker than Albies had.

Acuna and Albies are the two youngest players in Triple-A.

“I’ve known Ozzie for quite a bit, and he’s always been like a big brother to me,” Acuna said through an interpreter. “He’s always helped me through my career and also in spring training as well. So he’s like a big brother to me, and he’s helped me a lot.”

The Braves have a logjam of infielders. Rookie Dansby Swanson is losing playing time to fellow rookie Johan Camargo. Freddie Freeman and Matt Adams are covering the corners. Brandon Phillips is still manning second, at least for now. Rio Ruiz was demoted to Gwinnett because there simply weren’t enough at-bats to go around.

The talent crunch doesn’t distract Albies.

“I don’t pay attention to that,” he said. “I’m just doing what I need to do to get up there.”

He said seeing Swanson and Camargo in the majors has only increased his motivation. Albies and Camargo stay in frequent contact, often encouraging each other.

Another of Albies’ instructors is former Braves third baseman Chipper Jones. Jones attended Gwinnett batting practice Tuesday, and Albies has turned to him for advice. Jones noticed Albies occasionally falls toward first base, and has helped him clean up numerous fundamental errors.

Jones notably said in spring training he didn't think Albies was ready for the majors.

“I just need to stay consistent,” Albies said. “Stay consistent, make the routine outs, get on base a lot, steal bases and score a lot. That’s what I say I need to do.”

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported Albies was included in the Braves' offer for White Sox ace Jose Quintana. Quintana was dealt to the Cubs on July 13. But it wasn't the first time Albies' name has appeared in rumors.

Albies turns off his notifications on social media. He doesn’t pay attention to any of it.

“I don’t hear a lot of that, so I’m good,” he said. “It doesn’t come to my ears. I don’t go to social media for that stuff. I don’t even check it.”

Rather than worry with hearsay, Albies concerns himself with earning a promotion to his childhood favorite team.

“I watched the Braves always with my grandfather,” he said, recalling his early baseball memories. “I watched Andruw Jones, Chipper Jones, Rafael Furcal. All those guys.”

Making the majors is one thing, but doing so with the Braves is an idea that Albies couldn’t stop smiling about.

“It means a lot,” he said. “Even right now, it means a lot. Whenever I get the call, it will mean even way more. I will be just excited for it.”