Braves outfielder Nate McLouth had the worst offensive season of his career in 2010, posting a miserable .190 batting average and .620 OPS across 288 plate appearances. He was demoted to the Triple-A level at one point and he also battled a concussion near the middle of the summer.
It was a brutal showing.
But, because he is owed $7.5 million this season on the final year of his current contract and because the Braves don’t have any better options, McLouth is going to open the 2011 season as Atlanta’s starting center fielder.
Braves general manager Frank Wren confirmed that fact Thursday in a chat with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s David O’Brien:
“We think he can do it,” Wren said. “I think we saw enough in September, and we’ve seen enough in his career. I mean, he’s a good player. I believe — and I think most people around here believe — that what we saw for that first year he was with us, was an aberration. That’s not Nate McLouth. I mean, he’s too good a player, there’s too many teams that would love to have him. And he brings some things to the table that we don’t have.”
If it simply doesn’t work out, the Braves could turn to Joe Mather, an athletic outfielder who spent the last several seasons posting good numbers in the Cardinals’ minor league system. Or they could turn back to Jordan Schafer, though his numbers at Triple-A last year (.509 OPS in 208 PAs) were awfully frightening.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the Marlins are expected to trade shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria in the next few days.
Hechavarria, 28, is currently on a rehab assignment for a strained left oblique. It’s the second time this season he’s hit the sidelines with an oblique injury. Hechavarria is also hitting a disappointing .277/.288/.385 over 67 plate appearances, which is marginally better than his career averages.
While the Marlins are shopping Hechavarria at depressed value, there are two factors that give him value: he still plays good defense, and he’s under team control through the 2018 season. Passan does estimate that Hechavarria will see a pay raise from $4.3 million this season to $6-7 million next season in his third and final year of arbitration eligibility.
Passan adds that while the Marlins aren’t yet willing to shop outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, relievers A.J. Ramos, David Phelps, and Kyle Barraclough are being made available.
George Springer has been a dynamo out of the leadoff spot for the high-powered Astros this year, hitting 21 homers and driving in 46. He also leads the league in leadoff homers. Today, however, his leadoff appearance was short and ignominious.
Facing Jesse Hahn and the A’s in the Oakland Coliseum for a matinee, Springer was hit in the left hand on the game’s fifth pitch. Watch:
He went down to the dirt and was attended to by trainers before leaving the game. On the way off the field he threw his helmet in disgust. Oftentimes that sort of frustration comes from a player who knows he’s injured. How serious an injury is unknown at the moment. We’ll keep you posted.
Jake Marisnick pinch ran for Springer and came around to score. The Astros lead the A’s 2-0.