HOUSTON – A day after hitting the first home run of his major league career, Braves rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky was on the bench Wednesday.
All part of the plan, manager Fredi Gonzalez said. He had told Pastornicky before Tuesday’s game – when he homered in the fourth inning in his 10th big-league at-bat – that he’d get a rest Wednesday and veteran Jack Wilson would start at shortstop for the series finale against the Astros.
Gonzalez said he wants to give his backups enough starts to stay sharp, and also liked the matchup of Wilson against Astros left-hander Wandy Rodriguez. Wilson was 8-for-26 with a homer against him before Wednesday.
Pastornicky, 22, has made a good early impression during a rough stretch for the Braves. He was 3-for-12 with a triple, a homer, two RBIs, two walks and a .357 on-base percentage before Wednesday, while batting eighth in all four games he started.
“[Hitting coach] Greg [Walker] asked me what’s the hardest thing to do in the National League, and I said to hit eighth,” Gonzalez said. “And we’re asking a young rookie to hit eighth. There’s times where you’ve got to draw a walk, there’s times where you have to go after pitches out of the strike zone with people on base, because you’ve got the pitcher behind you. From that respect he’s done terrific. We couldn’t ask for anything more.”
A day out of the lineup for Pastornicky is a little busier than for other players, as the Braves are continuing the player-development process with him even as he’s serving as their primary shortstop. He had no previous major league experience and the Braves are making a point of to provide instruction for Pastornicky on a regular basis.
Gonzalez said bench coach Carlos Tosca spends time with Pastornicky in the video room, going over things such as an incident Monday when Pastornicky was playing too deep with speedy Jordan Schafer batting for the Astros.
But his bat – and high-minors experience — is what gave Pastornicky an edge over prospect Andrelton Simmons this spring. Pastornicky hit a combined .314 with five triples, seven homers, 27 steals and a .359 OBP last season in 117 games in Double-A and Triple-A.
“That’s what he’s all about — he’s an offensive guy,” Gonzalez said. “He got a home run [Tuesday], you can hit-and-run with him, you can do a lot of stuff. He can steal you a base. He’s a nice little weapon to have.”
Murph joins Braves broadcast team
Dale Murphy will join the Braves TV broadcast booth for a minimum of 14 games this season, Fox Sports South announced Wednesday.
The iconic former Braves outfielder and two-time National League MVP will join play-by-plan man Chip Caray and analyst Joe Simpson for some games on Fox Sports South, SportSouth and Peachtree TV, beginning with Sunday’s 1 p.m. game against Milwaukee on SportSouth.
Murphy gave it a test run during several spring training games, his first significant broadcasting experience.
“We are delighted to have Dale accept a more involved role with our Braves telecasts and with Fox Sports South,” Braves president John Schuerholz said.
Hudson at Rome Thursday
Tim Hudson makes his second minor-league rehab start Thursday night when he pitches for Rome in the Class-A team’s home opener, a game that Gonzalez and Braves pitching coach Roger McDowell plan to attend along with former Braves manager Bobby Cox, a team advisor. The plan is for Hudson, recovering from back surgery, to make four or five more rehab starts before rejoining the Braves in the last week of April or first week of May.