The Braves have something now they haven’t had in … well, they haven’t had it this season: production at the bottom of the lineup.
Right fielder Jason Heyward has gone nuts lately, batting .459 (11-for-37) with three home runs in a 10-game streak through Sunday. In 28 games in May, he hit .200, and only nine of his hits went for extra bases.
At the same time, he has stepped up his aggressiveness on the bases, and it was pretty high to begin with. He has 10 stolen bases — he had nine all of last season — and also is taking more extra bases on hits. It’s all instinct; he is seldom wrong and has the green light from manager Fredi Gonzalez.
And now rookie shortstop Andrelton Simmons is driving in runs with both hits and productive outs. He was promoted from Double-A Mississippi because of his stellar defense. Nobody was expecting any offense. And maybe that will diminish as the league compiles a book on him. But as savvy as he has looked in the field and at the plate, it’s a good bet he will be able to make the necessary adjustments when opponents do figure him out.
Nothing was expected of Simmons’ bat. But because he is producing so far, Gonzalez has been keeping Heyward in the sixth or seventh spot in the batting order, depending mostly on whether Brian McCann or David Ross is catching.
The Braves were off Monday, and Gonzalez typically uses an off day to make adjustments. The starting pitching has been such a problem that that’s what occupies him most, but he might also decide to tinker with the lineup. Especially because McCann is struggling. He’s the three-hole hitter at the moment but hit only .167 on the six-game road trip to New York and Boston.
Notes and Quotes
–3B Chipper Jones is batting only .189 (7 for 37) in 10 games since returning from the disabled list on June 10. The switch-hitting veteran says there have been a few times in his career when his swing wasn’t right from either side, and this is one of them. He is feeling soreness in his legs from the time he missed because of the severe contusion and hematoma he sustained in his left ankle and calf.
–LHP Mike Minor has given up 18 home runs in 60 1/3 innings this season, and most of them have come off his changeup, which is his best pitch. The damage is exacerbated by the fact that he is giving up walks as well. He walked two ahead of Red Sox RF Cody Ross’ homer on Sunday.
–The June 1 rainout against the Nationals in Washington will be made up as part of a doubleheader July 21. There will be a game at 1:05 p.m. followed by the regularly scheduled 7:05 game.
–RHP Jair Jurrjens’ win over the Red Sox on Friday was his first major league win since last August 22 over the Cubs in Chicago. It has taken that long for Jurrjens to strengthen and then trust his surgically repaired right knee.
–RHP Peter Moylan (right shoulder surgery in October 2011) was long-tossing as of mid-May. He threw his first bullpen session May 23 and hopes to return around the All-Star break.
–RHP Arodys Vizcaino (Tommy John surgery in March 2012) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. He is expected to miss the entire season.
–RHP Brandon Beachy (sore right elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list June 17. He underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery June 21.
–LHP Robert Fish (left elbow tendinitis) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26.