Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez realizes he might have been asking too much too soon from rookie second baseman Tommy La Stella by moving him to the top of the Braves lineup a month into his major league career.
La Stella entered Saturday’s doubleheader hitless in his previous 20 at-bats. Gonzalez sat him Friday night after he’d started 26 straight games since his call-up May 27 in Boston. La Stella came to Citizens Bank Park Saturday morning to find his name back in the No. 7 spot.
That’s where La Stella began his major league career a month ago and where he hit .364 (24-for-66) with a .425 on-base percentage through his first 18 games.
“Sometimes you make decisions and you know that’s a byproduct,” Gonzalez said. “He was swinging the bat really well, then we lead him off that game (June 18), and then (the average) drops.”
Gonzalez took a shot at moving La Stella to the leadoff spot June 18, and La Stella proceeded to go 2-for-20 in five games there. Gonzalez dropped La Stella to the No. 2 spot for three games in Houston and there he went 0-for-10 to lower his season average to .271.
So Gonzalez moved Andrelton Simmons to the No. 2 spot for the first two games of this Phillies series, the Braves’ .253-hitting shortstop. The benefit with Simmons, who has been inconsistent with his bat this season, is that he doesn’t strike out often – 29 times entering Saturday, lowest among Braves regulars.
“Give him a shot up there,” Gonzalez said. “Tommy has been struggling a little bit, move him down a little bit, give him a little breather, let him relax back there and get him going again.”
The Lynchburg Hillcats, the Braves High Single-A affiliate, combined to throw back-to-back no-hitters on Thursday and Friday nights, something that’s believed to have happened only nine times in minor league history, according to the Hillcats.
Brookwood High graduate Lucas Sims, the Braves first round pick in 2012, pitched seven no-hit innings Thursday night, followed by two more from reliever Alex Wilson in a 7-1 win over Wilmington. (Sims allowed an unearned run in the fifth inning after allowing a runner to reach on one of his four walks.)
Then on Friday night the Hillcats no-hit Wilmington again, this time getting seven no-hit innings from right-hander Cody Scarpetta, followed by two innings from Benino Pruneda. Scarpetta, 25, a former 11th round pick by the Brewers, had just signed with the Braves out of the Atlantic independent league two weeks earlier.
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