Braves demote Schafer, go back to Blanco

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How often do you see a team send down a player who has started 98
percent of its games? Jordan Schafer was Atlanta’s starting center
fielder 49 times in 50 games this season. He even played 5 ½ innings in
the one game he didn’t start. He had received 195 of the 200 plate
appearances to go to Braves center fielders this season.

Of course, Schafer had struggled mightily since homering in his
first major league at-bat. Since starting off 8-for-19 with both of his
homers, he had hit .176/.289/.216 with 59 strikeouts in 148 at-bats. He
had walked 24 times, so he was at least occasionally helping to turn
the order around as a No. 8 hitter. However, he had knocked in just
five runs.

If Gregor Blanco had been hitting at all in the minors, this switch
likely would have been made three weeks ago. However, it took a recent
six-game surge just to get him up to .242/.335/.300 for the season.
That Schafer is the better center fielder of the two only made the move
more difficult. Still, the Braves likely are doing the right thing for
Schafer in sending him down. They were going to have baseball’s worst
offensive outfielder with or without him.

Henderson Alvarez signs with Tigres de Quintana Roo

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Free agent right-hander Henderson Alvarez signed a deal with the Tigres de Quintana Roo of the Mexican Baseball League earlier this week, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Friday. The righty wasn’t necessarily too fringey a player to hack it in the big leagues, but there were no MLB takers in attendance during his showcase in Venezuela last month and he clearly felt it best to try his luck elsewhere.

The 27-year-old’s last major league gig came with the Phillies, for whom he delivered a 4.30 ERA, 6.8 BB/9 and 3.7 SO/9 over 14 2/3 innings in 2017. While he’s not too far removed from his first and only All-Star bid in 2014, he was besieged by shoulder issues in 2015 and 2016 and underwent season-ending surgeries as a result.

That added injury risk, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t pitched more than 22 innings in a single season since 2014, may have been too much for major league teams to take on this spring. Assuming he steers clear of further injuries, however, a return to the majors may not be entirely out of the question in years to come.