Schafer starts again over B.J. Upton

Jordan Schafer makes a diving catch for the out on a fly ball by Phillies Kevin Frandsen during the 8th inning
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Jordan Schafer makes a diving catch for the out on a fly ball by Phillies Kevin Frandsen during the 8th inning

Credit: Curtis Compton

Credit: Curtis Compton

B.J. Upton was out of the Braves lineup for the second time in three games Tuesday. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he was trying to get Jordan Schafer some at-bats and had Schafer penciled in batting seventh, playing center field.

“Good time of year to get your bench in there, get them some at-bats,” Gonzalez said.

But it also appears it’s the time of year when the Braves aren’t feeling as patient as they were earlier in the season with the struggles of both B.J. Upton and Dan Uggla at the plate. Upton was out of the lineup Tuesday, the same day the Braves approached Uggla about going forward with Lasik eye surgery and placed him on the disabled list. Tyler Pastornicky was recalled from Gwinnett and given the start at second.

The lineup changes came after both Uggla and Upton failed to drive in a runner from third base with less than two outs on back-to-back strikeouts in a 5-1 loss to the Phillies Monday night. It was a scoring opportunity that could have changed the complexion of the game, Gonzalez acknowledged afterward.

Upton was coming off a good road trip to Philadelphia and Washington where he hit 476 (10-for-21) over a five-game hitting streak - including a four-hit game - to raise his season average to .198. Since the Braves returned home, though, Upton is 0-for-11 with six strikeouts and a sacrifice fly.

For the season Upton is hitting .096 (7-for-73) with runners in scoring position, worst in the majors among qualified players.

“Coming out of Washington I felt a lot better,” Upton said. “Even in Philly I felt a lot better. So I don’t know. (Sitting out) is not my call. I’m sure it’s just a day and I’ll be here, rooting my teammates on.”

Notable

Left-hander Paul Maholm is scheduled to throw six innings or 90 pitches Saturday in Single-A Rome in what is expected to be the only outing of a minor league rehabilitation assignment. If all continues to go well with his left wrist, Maholm could be worked back into the rotation during the Braves four-game series in St. Louis, Aug. 22-25. The Braves have begun discussing scenarios for what they’ll do with the rotation when he returns but haven’t finalized any plans….

The Rome Braves announced that the Braves will play their annual exhibition game against their minor league prospects coming out of spring training on Saturday, March 29 at State Mutual Stadium in Rome and then open the 2014 season in Philadelphia. (The official 2014 schedule hasn’t yet been released.)

The exhibition game has been held twice at Coolray Field, home of the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves, and last year it was at Trustmark Park in Pearl, Miss. where the Braves Double-A affiliate plays.