(Chris Vivlamore filling in for DOB at doubleheader against the Mets)
NEW YORK – Chipper Jones has batted second before.
The Braves third baseman last hit No. 2 at the 2000 All-Star Game, batting between Barry Larkin and Vladimir Guerrero. He went 3-for-3 with his only all-star home run.
Jones hit second Thursday in the first game of a doubleheader against the Mets as manager Fredi Gonzalez tried to spark a struggling Braves offense.
“No matter where I hit, I’m going to go up there and look for the first fat one and wail on it,” said Jones, who also batted second in four games in 1996. “It’s not going to change depending on where I hit.”
Gonzalez said he wanted to put his top on-base percentage hitters to start the lineup with Michael Bourn (.322), Jones (.355), Brian McCann (.358), Dan Uggla (.310) and Freddie Freeman (.353).
The Braves have scored just 16 runs in losing five of their past six games before Thursday’s doubleheader.
“See if we can get something going and try something different,” Gonzalez said. “I don’t think I will keep it for a long time.”
Gonzalez said ultimately his goal is to get Jason Heyward more at-bats and move him back to the No. 2 spot in the batting order.
The move was not done on the spur of the moment, according to Gonzalez. He said he has discussed the move with Jones for about a week. Before Wednesday’s series-finale against the Phillies, Gonzalez showed Jones three different lineup cards.
“I said ‘What do you think about that one?’ That was the one with him hitting second. He said ‘I like it.’”
Neither Gonzalez nor Jones want the veteran to change his approach at the plate. In other words, don’t expect any bunts. It will also be important that Jones not take hittable pitches should Bourn get on base, in an effort to allow him to steal. That became an issue in the first few games after the Braves acquired Bourn as Martin Prado passed on strikes.
“We’ve been scuffling a little bit and he’s searching for answers,” Jones said. “When you’re top two or three hitters are struggling, in any lineup, I’m going to show you a lineup that has trouble scoring runs. That’s why you are hit at the top of the lineup because you kick start the offense. When those guys struggle, we struggle. That’s why Fredi is trying a bunch of different things at the top.”
Game 1 lineup
1. Bourn CF
2. Jones 3B
3. Brian McCann C
4. Dan Uggla 2B
5. Freddie Freeman 1B
6. Martin Prado LF
7. Jason Heyward RF
8. Alex Gonzalez SS
9. Mike Minor P