SAN DIEGO – When rookie shortstop sensation Andrelton Simmons broke a bone in his throwing hand in the last game before the All-Star break, the Braves figured to take a significant step back defensively until he returned.
Who would’ve thought a trade for a 29-year-old Triple-A shortstop could so effectively fill the defensive void? But it did.
Paul Janish had one error in 188 defensive chances for Atlanta before Monday and led National League shortstops with a .995 fielding percentage since the All-Star break. Janish has started 42 of 43 games since coming over from the Reds organization in a July 14 trade for minor league pitcher Todd Redmond.
“Our scouts did a terrific job getting Yonny,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “If we didn’t have him, I just can’t see another guy out there filling the position the way he’s filled it for us. Not without giving up big-time people. We gave up a young pitcher. [Redmond] is a journeyman right-hander and we give him up for this guy – man, oh man, that’s a pretty good trade.”
Simmons’ recovery has been steady but slower than expected, and the Braves aren’t expected to him back from the disabled list before the second week of September. He’ll play some injury-rehab games in the minor leagues — probably in playoff games, since the minor league season ends next week.
Whether or not Janish reverts to a backup role as soon as Simmons returns, Gonzalez said he’s “absolutely” done enough to warrant consideration for a Braves utility job next season. Janish played primarily shortstop for nine seasons in the Reds organization, but has experience at second and third base.
Janish played parts of the past four seasons in the majors with Cincinnati, but was in Triple-A for all of 2012 before the Braves traded for him. They expected him to play solid if not spectacular defense and provide very little offense. He’s surpassed expectations in both areas.
Although hitting just .207 with a .279 on-base percentage and nine RBIs in 140 at-bats before Monday, Janish was 5-for-17 with runners in scoring position and two outs, and had a two-run triple Sunday at San Francisco to push the Braves’ lead to 5-0 in a 7-1 series-finale win against the Giants.
“He’s shown a knack for getting big hits,” Gonzalez said. “Great guy, good teammate, can really, really pick it.”
Gonzalez said the Braves probably wouldn’t make more than a handful of September roster additions. Teams can expand rosters beginning Saturday.
“I don’t think we’ll have any surprises, really,” he said. “It’ll be a backup catcher. [Jose] Constanza for another outfielder — I would think he’d be the guy, speed guy. And then see where Simmons is at, where [DL'd infielder] Jack Wilson’s at. Then maybe two or three pitchers.”
Gonzalez was non-commital when asked if pitchers Randall Delgado and/or Julio Teheran might be added.
If you thought a team might have trouble coming up with something new and different to give retiring Braves third baseman Chipper Jones at this point of his farewell tour, you were wrong.
The Padres presented him with a surfboard in a presentation at home plate before Monday night’s series opener at Petco Park. Former Padres closer Trevor Hoffman, an avid surfer, was on hand to present the ‘board to Jones, an avid hunter.