Snitker anticipating lineup possibilities when Freeman returns

Newcomer Matt Adams (pictured) has thrived to such a degree that the Braves are making bold steps in order to keep him in the lineup when Freddie Freeman returns from the disabled list in July. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)
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Newcomer Matt Adams (pictured) has thrived to such a degree that the Braves are making bold steps in order to keep him in the lineup when Freddie Freeman returns from the disabled list in July. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

In two or three weeks, Braves manager Brian Snitker expects to start making out lineups that feature sluggers Freddie Freeman, Matt Kemp and Matt Adams in the middle. A trio of big boppers, thanks to Freeman’s decision to move to third base once he returns from the disabled list, to allow Adams to remain at first base.

You better believe Snitker is already considering the possibilities.

“It’s going to be one of those lineups that those pitching coaches on the other side aren’t going to like planning for,” Snitker said. “We talked about last year Matt Kemp lengthening our lineup. Now you’re talking about adding Matt Adams to a lineup with Freddie, and that’s pretty good.” He paused, smiled, repeated. “It’s pretty good.”

It would be the most potent Braves lineup since 2013, when they had five players with 20 or more homers and won 96 games before losing to the Dodgers in a division series, not just the last time the Braves made the playoffs but the last time they won as many as 80 games.

The Braves will have Ender Inciarte batting leadoff, probably still followed by Brandon Phillips, then Freeman back in his usual third spot, Kemp batting cleanup, Adams hitting fifth and either Nick Markakis and one of the catchers, Tyler Flowers or Kurt Suzuki, in the sixth and seven spots, with Dansby Swanson batting eighth.

But there are plenty of other ways it could go including having Freeman hit second, something Snitker said he’s thought about. Sluggers including Mike Trout, Kris Bryant and Bryce Harper are among those who’ve hit second on a full- or at least part-time basis lately.

Snitker said he wouldn’t be concerned about hitting left-handers consecutively in the first two spots with Inciarte and Freeman.

“It’s something I want to talk to him about and see what his thoughts (are),” Snitker said of possibly hitting Freeman second. “Because the lefty thing doesn’t matter; our lefties hit left-handers. It’s not like we have left-handed bats in our lineup that need to be platooned with. These guys hit lefties…. All those things, as we get closer, we’ll all discuss. That’s kind of fun to think about things like that.”

On the other hand, he said, given his druthers he’d still probably prefer to alternate left-handed and right-handed batters most of the time, and Phillips has performed well in the second spot behind Inciarte.

“I kind of like splitting it up,” he said. “Brandon’s done a really good job in that 2-hole, so it’s not like we don’t have that guy, either.”