Martin Prado started at third base, left field, third base and left field in the Braves' first four games. He's getting better at moving back and forth from one game to the next, but he doesn't like it. And only now is he willing to admit that worrying about covering each position well defensively took a toll on his offense last season.
Prado batted .182 (2 for 11) in the season-opening series against the Mets, this after leading the Braves with 26 hits and a .356 (26 for 73) batting average in 23 spring training games. In Monday night's 8-3 loss to the Astros, Prado -- who moved back to third base in the sixth inning -- was 2 for 4 with a double and a run scored.
He may get a break soon. Third-baseman Chipper Jones is chomping at the bit to come off the disabled list (left knee surgery). While he may not be up to playing third base every day for a while, his availability -- even if only as a pinch-hitter -- allows manager Fredi Gonzalez to deploy back-up third-baseman Juan Francisco and leave Prado in the outfield.
Although Prado prefers the infield part of his infielder-outfielder designation, he obviously prefers being a starter more. And unless something happens to a starting infielder, his only shot at being a regular is in left.
In 2010, the first year he had a dedicated starting position, Prado was named an All-Star second baseman. He earned Player of the Week honors that May for batting .367 (11 for 30) and finished ninth in the National League MVP voting. Both Prado and the team want to see that from him consistently. But the Braves aren't making it easy on him by yanking him back and forth.
-3B Chipper Jones had a good pre-batting-practice workout and, depending on how he feels in the morning, he could be activated from the 15-day disabled list (left knee surgery) before Tuesday's game against the Astros. The Astros honored him before Monday's game, Craig Biggio presenting him with a Stetson so he can ride into the sunset in retirement after this season.
-OF Matt Diaz has batted .239 (11 for 46) at Minute Maid Park but owns Astros starting LHP J.A. Happ, hitting .533 (8 for 15) with a home run. Manager Fredi Gonzalez is enough of a stats guy to have Diaz start in right field over Jason Heyward. Diaz was 1 for 2 against Happ.
-RF Jason Heyward's double in the seventh inning, which drove in two runs, was the Braves' only hit with runners in scoring position during the three-game Mets series. But OF Matt Diaz has batted .533 (8 for 15) against Astros starting LHP J.A. Happ. Heyward took over in right in the sixth inning.
-RHP Tim Hudson's next rehab start is scheduled for Thursday, when he'll start the home opener for Class A Rome. The goal is 65 pitches, which Hudson and pitching coach Roger McDowell expect to take him through four innings.
-3B Juan Francisco got the start at third base rather than INFOF Martin Prado, because manager Fredi Gonzalez wanted to see how he did against left-handed pitching before 3B Chipper Jones comes off the disabled list, which could happen as soon as Tuesday. Francisco made three errors.
-3B Chipper Jones (arthroscopic left knee surgery in March 2012) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. He could be activated on April 10.
-RHP Tim Hudson (back surgery in November 2011) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to April 3. He hopes to be ready to return around May 1.
-RHP Arodys Vizcaino (Tommy John surgery in March 2012) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26. He is expected to miss the entire season.
-RHP Anthony Varvaro (right pectoral strain) went on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26.
-LHP Robert Fish (left elbow tendinitis) on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to March 26.
QUOTE TO NOTE
"We're not real pretty right now, but we'll get it going." -- Manager Fredi Gonzalez, after the Braves committed four errors Monday night.