He knew the statistics suggested otherwise, but Jordan Schafer said his injury-rehab stint at Triple-A Gwinnett ended on a good note, and he was pleased to rejoin the streaking Braves on Saturday.
Schafer went 2-for-32 with two doubles, two RBIs, one walk and four strikeouts in eight rehab games.
“Glad to be done with it,” said Schafer, who had been on the DL since July 4 with a stress fracture in his right ankle. “I felt OK (on the rehab assignment), and then the last three or four games I felt really good. So I’m ready to be back. Obviously it’s an exciting place right now to be, and I’m excited to get back on the field.”
Jose Constanza was optioned to Gwinnett to open a roster spot for Schafer, who was a big part of the Braves’ strong bench before he got hurt.
“He can lead off an inning, he can steal you a base, and hopefully he has the success that he had before the injury,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We’ll see when we get him some playing time.”
Schafer played the best baseball of his career before the injury, batting .312 with a .399 OBP, nine extra-base hits (three homers) and nine stolen bases in 125 at-bats. He was Braves’ best leadoff option before fouling a ball off his ankle June 26 at Kansas City.
The stress fracture didn’t show up on initial X-rays, and it was more than a week before he went on the DL, after being used in a couple of pinch-hit appearances in the interim.
After going a month without playing, Schafer struggled mightily for several games at Gwinnett.
“The first three or four games, timing-wise I was really off,” he said. “After six weeks or whatever it was, it’s a big adjustment. It’s a lot different than just hitting (batting practice), facing live pitching. That was probably the biggest thing for me, and then being able to go out there and trust myself to run full speed and not have to worry about anything.
“The first game, I was kind of scared to go full speed, even though I ran full speed on the bases before I went on the assignment. But about halfway through (last week) I felt OK and felt it start to turn around a little bit. After the fourth or fifth day, I felt ready. It got better and better. The last four games, I lined out nine times. And it’s not like line-outs to the infield; I lined out to the center fielder seven times in the four games. It was unbelievable.”
Gonzalez said: “He hit balls hard. So, bring him up here and use him. It gives you a guy who can spell somebody in the outfield. He has the same role as he had before he got hurt.”
Laird, Gearrin updates: Backup catcher Gerald Laird will be activated from the DL Sunday, and outfielder Todd Cunningham will be optioned to Gwinnett to create a roster space. Laird, who has been recovering from a procedure to remove a kidney stone, played his second rehab game for Triple-A Gwinnett on Saturday….
Veteran outfielder and pinch-hit specialist Reed Johnson, on the DL with Achilles tendinitis, said the condition felt a lot better this week but hadn’t been cleared to run. He’s continued hitting and throwing while on the DL, so it shouldn’t take long for him to be ready once he resumes running….
The Gwinnett Braves placed reliever Cory Gearrin on the DL with right shoulder tendinitis. The rookie was optioned to Triple-A on July 5 after giving up eight earned runs in six innings over his last seven appearances. He had not pitched since the demotion, instead focusing on strengthening his shoulder and working on his delivery.
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