LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – A quick Q&A with Braves general manager Frank Wren during batting practice before Tuesday’s game against the Yankees.
What have you thought of Ed Lucas? (the minor league free-agent signee was batting .438 — 7-for-16 with four RBIs — in seven games):
Wren: “Lucas has played well. He’s swung the bat. He’s done everything. He’s been as advertised. Our guys thought he was a guy who handled the bat and could play multiple positions, and our scouts were right on.”
I know he can play a lot of positions. But is he a guy who could, say, play shortstop for five games if necessary?
Wren: “Yeah, he could.”
What have you thought of Diory? [Diory Hernandez, another utility-infield candidate, was 5-for-15 with a double and two triples before Tuesday.]
Wren: “Diory’s had a good spring. He looks like he’s recovered from the shoulder surgery and is in better shape. You have shoulder surgery and there’s just not a lot you can do, because every movement affects your shoulder. For him it was a very difficult year like it was for Schafer, just kind of a lost year.”
Is he hitting now the way you guys expected he would a year or two ago?
Wren: “Yeah. We always thought of him as an offensive-minded utility guy, and that’s the way he’s swinging it now.”
How about his defense? [Hernandez plays shortstop and second base.]
Wren: “He’s solid. We know he’s not going to be flashy. He catches the ball and gets guys out. I mean, that’s really what you ask them to do.”
You’ve got a couple of position-player decisions that look like they could be difficult.
Wren: “The longer you wait and the longer you watch, the guys will make those decisions for you. We don’t have to predetermine it; they’ll make those decisions.”
And I’d guess you have to wait because so much could depend upon the health of certain players, right? Like Chipper [Jones], who so far has been fine.
Wren: “You’re always, until you pack the bags and leave here and finish those two games in Atlanta, you’re open-minded. You’ve got to keep open all your options because things happen.”
In an ideal scenario, would like Jordan Schafer to play every day for a while in the minors?
Wren: “We haven’t even talked about that yet. I think that was our thought coming into this, that we want him to get his at-bats and get on solid ground. He’s done really well. We haven’t predetermined anything to this point, but we like where we are.”
Has Nate McLouth done about all you could’ve hoped for so far in spring training?
Wren: “He’s been tremendous. He looks like Pittsburgh Nate. We weren’t asking for anything more than that. We just wanted him to be Pittsburgh Nate, and he sure looks like that guy.”