JUPITER, Fla. – The Braves like Ed Lucas’ defensive versatility, and if he keeps hitting he could make one of the final roster decisions more difficult.
Lucas had a two-out triple in the ninth inning Monday to drive in the tying run for the Braves, who lost 4-3 against the Marlins in 10 innings.
A former Royals farmhand signed as a minor league free agent, Lucas is batting .438 (7-for-16) with four RBIs, one strikeout and a .500 on-base percentage in seven games.
The 28-year-old hit .307 with a career-high 13 homers and a .398 OBP in 99 games at Triple-A Omaha.
He’s at least serviceable defensively at every infield position and has experience at all three outfield spots, though left field is probably the only outfield position where the Braves would want to use him.
Depending on how the roster shakes out, Lucas could be competing for a backup job with Diory Hernandez, who is a superior defensive player at second base and shortstop, but doesn’t play other positions. Hernandez is 5-for-15 with two doubles and a triple.
“He gives you good at-bats,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said, “and he’s got a lot of versatility. When he gets up to the plate, his setup, he looks like he’s going to get a hit.”
Matt Young led off the Braves’ 10th inning with a perfect bunt single, then was thrown out at second base on a failed hit-and-run with pinch-hitter Brandon Hicks. “It’s one of those situations where maybe during the season, you go straight [sacrifice bunt],” Gonzalez said “But you hate for a guy to pinch-hit and sac in a spring-training game. You drove 2-1/2 hours. But you still try to win the game. We tried to hit-and-run. It was a tough pitch in the dirt.”…Braves reliever Jose Ortegano recorded just one out in the 10th inning and gave up the winning run on two walks and a Bryan Petersen single.