Schafer, Pastornicky not among early arrivers

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Only a few Braves position players weren’t in camp by Wednesday, and manager Fredi Gonzalez noted that two were Central Floridians not assured of roster spots, outfielder Jordan Schafer and infielder Tyler Pastornicky.

Pastornicky is from Bradenton and Schafer from Haines City, a 20-minute drive from Braves camp. A year ago, Pastornicky was a rookie who was the Braves’ projected starting shortstop and one of the last to arrive in camp, after spending the previous week training with veteran infielder Jack Wilson at Wilson’s home in California.

Pastornicky lost the shortstop job after struggling through late May and was replaced by Andrelton Simmons. This year, Pastornicky will compete for a utility job. He doesn’t appear to have much chance of making the team out of spring training, since the Braves signed free agent Ramiro Pena to serve as backup shortstop and utility infielder at least until Paul Janish returns from shoulder surgery.

“We’re waiting for [Pastornicky] again this year,” Gonzalez said sarcastically, in a good-natured tone that nonetheless sent a message. “Schafer probably has a tough time getting travel arrangements. He’s another one I’m going to grab. He only lives two exits up the road here; I haven’t seen him yet."

Then he joked: “I didn’t know he signed a deal with (general manager) Frank (Wren) – he’s got a five-year deal, guarantee to play one of the three outfield spots.”

Ouch.

Schafer, a former Braves prospect shipped to Houston in the July 2011 trade for Michael Bourn, is back with the Braves after being claimed off waivers Nov. 1. The Braves picked him up for depth and as insurance in case other moves didn’t pan out this winter, but he would likely have to beat out Jose Constanza and others for a possible backup outfield spot.

Braves positions players aren’t required to report until Thursday. But all of the Braves’ projected lineup regulars and most bench candidates were in camp by Wednesday morning, and several reported nearly a week ago.

"When I talk to them in the winter time,” Gonzalez said, “I tell them, you guys aren’t supposed to be there until this date, but we’ll be down there early and we’ll have coaches  come down early and be available. So you don’t get that jet lag or you get off the plane and the next thing you’re working out.”

Veteran outfielder Reed Johnson, after driving with his family from Nevada, reported Wednesday and took batting practice with the starting outfield of Jason Heyward and the Upton brothers, Justin and B.J. Heyward has been in camp since late last week and the Uptons reported earlier this week.