The Braves added another bench piece Thursday, signing utility infielder Ramiro Pena to a one-year major league contract.
Pena, a former New York Yankee who has played shortstop, third base, and second base, provides the Braves another backup shortstop given the uncertainty of when Paul Janish might return. Janish, whom the Braves also signed to a one-year deal, underwent surgery for a torn labrum on his non-throwing shoulder and might need an additional two to four weeks at the start of the season.
Janish has minor league options remaining and could be sent to Triple-A Gwinnett without going through waivers. Pena is out of options.
Like Janish, Pena is outstanding defensively. And the Braves don’t have another near major-league ready player in their organization who fits that profile.
Tyler Pastornicky began last season as the starting shortstop but struggled defensively and was sent to the minors in late May in favor of defensive whiz Andrelton Simmons. Pastornicky finished the season on the Braves bench.
The defensive-minded Pena, whose primary position is shortstop, hit .233 in 180 games over four seasons for the Yankees. The 27-year-old switch-hitter and native of Mexico played a career high 85 games for the Yankees in 2010, hitting .227 with 18 RBIs.
Pena is hitting .308 with a .430 on-base percentage in 48 games in Mexican Pacific League. He has nine doubles, one triple, five home runs and 15 RBIs. He has only two home runs in the majors.