SEATTLE — Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez received more encouraging news regarding Martin Prado on Monday and said his left fielder will likely continue to increase his workload as this week progresses. Prado has been sidelined since being diagnosed with staph infection June 9.
The Braves’ medical staff has informed Gonzalez that the cut on Prado’s right calf has continued to close over the past few days. Prado was cleared to begin taking swings off a tee Friday and is now doing some exercises with a medicine ball.
Gonzalez said there is a chance Prado will be cleared to begin running and doing more baseball-related drills later this week. The Braves are hopeful he could return before the All-Star break.
SEATTLE — With the Mariners starting left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard on Monday night, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez constructed a unique lineup. But he doesn’t plan to keep Jason Heyward in the leadoff spot over the course of the next few days or weeks.
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Somewhat by default Heyward was placed in the leadoff spot for the first time in his career. With Bedard having limited left-handed hitters to a .205 (16-for-78) batting average, Gonzalez decided this would be a good day to rest Jordan Schafer, who has batted just .118 (4-for-34) against left-handers this year.
Bedard’s presence also led Gonzalez to give the right-handed-hitting Wilkin Ramirez just his second start of the season. With Nate McLouth moving to center field to fill Schafer’s void, Ramirez started in left field.
“We’ll just give [Schafer] a little breather,” Gonzalez said. “Plus you’ve got to be able to use Ramirez. That’s when he’s going to be used, against a left-handed pitcher. We’ve got three left-handed outfielders. If he’s not going to be able to spell a guy against a tough lefty, when are you going to use him?”
Gonzalez’s lineup also looked a little bit odd with Chipper Jones serving as the designated hitter and Julio Lugo making his 24th career start at third base. The 35-year-old Lugo, who spent most of his career as a shortstop, entered the game having hit .265 in 34 career at-bats against Bedard. No other Braves player had totaled more than nine at-bats against the left-hander.
Instead of moving McLouth out of the eighth spot, where he has found some success the past couple days, Gonzalez opted to assign the leadoff role to Heyward, who had hit .265 with a .348 on-base percentage since being activated from the disabled
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