LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — In all honesty, Martin Prado wasn’t thrilled over being moved from second base to left field to accommodate Dan Uggla after the Nov. 16 trade for the Marlins slugger.
Here was Prado, an All-Star in his first season as a Braves lineup regular in 2010. Now the former utility infielder was being switched to the outfield, where he’d played only sparingly in the majors and winter ball.
Also, he got the news while rehabbing from the hip pointer and torn oblique muscle that ended Prado’s season on Sept. 27 and kept him out of the postseason.
“I mean, when they talked to me, it was hard for me,” Prado said after his solo workout Monday morning at Braves camp, on the day pitchers and catchers reported to spring training (Prado arrived more than a week before position players were due).
“I was thinking about it for a few days, thinking, ‘Ok, playing left field every day, that’s a new thing for me in the my career,’” he said. “It’s something that I have to [handle] professionally.
“I guess they see me as one of those guys that can play different positions. I’m glad they thought about me at that [left field] position, and I have to assume it, take that responsibility … and do the best I can.”
Prado’s response demonstrated an attitude that teammates respect. Instead of complaining about being asked to move after hitting .307 with career-highs of 40 doubles and 15 homers in 140 games, Prado looked at it from the Braves’ perspective.
In Uggla they added a 30-homer hitter, the right-handed power they sought for years, and they wanted to sign him to an extension (which they did — five years, $62 million).
“I was happy for the team,” Prado said. “All my teammates — I talked to Brian [McCann] and all those guys — they were pretty excited about Uggla. For now this is not about me, this is about the team, and all those guys who put last season together. We have to get together again and do it again.”
Prado said the initial discomfort he had in his hip after he began rehabbing is gone, and he’s strengthened his core muscles and hasn’t had any problems since he resumed hitting and fielding. He’s glad to have those issues eased so he can concentrate on outfield work this spring.
“I don’t know, I can’t tell how it’ll be playing there every day at that position,” he said. “There’s a bunch of stuff that I have to work on. All the coaches are asking me what I want to work on. I’m asking everybody for tips, all the outfielders, to get caught up with them.”