“The biggest thing he told me is, no matter how high you are or how low you are, you’ve got to keep a level plane as far as body language (and) the way you go about the game,” Riley, 22, said. “It can humble you really quick. Just got to be thankful when things are going good and continue to work when things (are) going bad.”
A week ago Tuesday night, Riley got the call that he was being promoted to Atlanta. The opening came when outfielder Ender Inciarte was placed on the 10-day injured list with a lower back strain. But it had become fairly apparent Riley, principally a third baseman, would be in Atlanta soon, one way or the other, when the Braves began having him play left field for Gwinnett the week before last.
“That’s when I started getting some hints,” Riley said.
“(Braves director of player development) Dom Chiti had told me at the start of the season, ‘We’re not going to put you out there if you’re not hitting. Not going to put a lot of things on you at first. Just focus on hitting,’” Riley said. “Those first couple of weeks of the season, I wasn’t (hitting).”
That changed dramatically in recent weeks, and he became the first player in the Braves’ Atlanta history with at least eight hits in his first four major-league games. Sunday’s three strikeouts gave him six in 19 at-bats with Atlanta.
Riley had played just five games in his life in the outfield before reaching the majors -- four at Gwinnett and one in spring training this year. He said he has felt “actually pretty comfortable” in left field “other than that one ball” that went for a double Saturday after he didn’t play it well.
He played his first four big-league games in left field before starting at third base Sunday, giving Josh Donaldson a rest.
“As long as I am in the lineup, I don’t care where,” Riley said.