LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – The Braves got a look at their new shortstop in action Friday when Tyler Pastornicky took infield and batting practice a couple of hours after reporting to camp.
“Had a lot of fun,” said Pastornicky, 22, who fielded grounders while third baseman Chipper Jones did the same not far to his right. “I got to watch him a lot growing up. Pretty cool getting to be beside him.”
Pastornicky is penciled in as the Opening Day shortstop despite no major league experience. He hit .314 with a .359 on-base percentage, seven home runs and 27 stolen bases in 117 minor league games in 2011, including .365 with a .407 OBP in 27 games at Triple-A Gwinnett before a sprained ankle sidelined him for most of the last month.
“I’ve still got a lot of work to do, and nothing’s going to be given to me,” said Pastornicky, who hasn’t been told the job is his and will approach spring training as if he must win it. “I’ve still got to go out there and play hard and play my game.”
His uniform number is 1.
“I wore 77 last spring, so I’m working my way up,” said Pastornicky, a non-roster invitee to major league camp in 2011.
He was the last of the Braves’ projected starters to report to camp this year, because he hadn’t realized so many players would report so early. Pastornicky had previously scheduled a five-day trip to work out with veteran Braves shortstop Jack Wilson, who has a gym, batting cage and regulation infield at his home in Camarillo, Calif.
Wilson brought in a batting-practice pitcher and fungo hitter and even had a friend come over to play first base during the drills he did with Pastornicky.
Wilson, 34, has taken Pastornicky under his proverbial wing and will be his backup, once the older player recovers from a strained calf he got during one of their conditioning drills Tuesday. He’s expected to be out 4-6 weeks.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez said it was no a problem having Pastornicky be the last starter to report, and was pleased that he was getting tutelage from the strong-fielding Wilson.
“I had a trip planned to visit with Jack and get some work done out there,” Pastornicky said. “You get an opportunity like that, you’ve got to take advantage of it. It was great being out there. Got some work in and learned a lot.”
The Braves’ first full-squad workout is at 1 p.m. Saturday. Their usual workouts start at 10 a.m, but are moved back three hours Saturday and Sunday so players can get physicals in the morning.