Braves third baseman Chris Johnson is hitting .333 with an on-base percentage of .379.
ATLANTA — Chris Johnson leads the Braves in hitting (batting .333) and ranks third on the team in on-base percentage (.379), yet he hits eighth in the Braves’ order.
So why isn’t he hitting higher?
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Wednesday he has thought about moving Johnson up, but then situations happen such as Tuesday night against the Marlins, when Johnson came up in the eighth spot with the bases loaded and changed the game.
Johnson’s two-out, two-run double broke open the game, and the Braves were on their way to an 11-3 win over the Marlins.
“I’ve been tempted to move him up a couple times, but it seems like that hole comes up with some people on base all the time,” Gonzalez said. “Or at the very least you get the other manager thinking about whether you walk him or pitch to the pitcher, at least turning the lineup over.”
Gonzalez said it seems as if Johnson has come up with more runners on base recently than Freddie Freeman, who bats cleanup, and he has a point.
In the first four games of this homestand, Johnson has come to the plate with a total of 15 runners on; Freeman has had 15 runners on, too.
Given Johnson’s batting average, some fantasy leaguers would like to see him batting leadoff over Andrelton Simmons, but Johnson doesn’t have the speed of a typical leadoff hitter.
And batting eighth has proved to have its advantages.
Some hitters struggle batting eighth, but Johnson doesn’t seem to mind.
Entering Wednesday’s game, Johnson was hitting .375 at that spot, his highest average anywhere in the order in which he had than 15 at-bats, including second, fifth, sixth and seventh.
“It’s helping me out actually because I know that they’re not going to just throw it in there because the pitcher is behind me,” said Johnson, a naturally aggressive hitter. “So I’ve got to learn how to be patient, take my walks, hopefully that helps me out in the long run.”
Mastering bunting: The Braves resisted calling up left-hander Alex Wood from Double-A because they didn’t want to disrupt his development. With the injuries to Eric O’Flaherty and Jonny Venters, they needed him, though, so Wood is doing some of his developing on the fly. That includes learning to handle a bat.
Wood has taken batting practice with starting pitchers before every home game since before he made his spot start June 18 against the Mets. The Braves want him to work on his bunting skills, which he can use as a long reliever now and when he gets a regular spot in the rotation down the road.
Wood can use the help. He has struck out in two bunt attempts for the Braves, including once Tuesday night. He failed in the only other attempt of his pro career, earlier this year at Double-A Mississippi.
“It’s something I’ve got to work at for when I do start starting because it’s embarrassing to go up there and not be able to get a bunt down,” Wood said.
Wood hasn’t hit since high school, when he wasn’t called on to bunt. He didn’t hit at the University of Georgia or in his first professional season after the Braves drafted him in the second round last year.
“That takes time,” Gonzalez said. “You see (Wood), he practices, but it’s not 97 mph fastballs and sliders. ... You could bunt all day long off the machine or in the cages, but until you start getting bunting in real live games and feel comfortable, that takes a while.”
Injury updates: The Braves have recalled outfielder Joey Terdoslavich from Triple-A Gwinnett, and placed Jordan Schafer on the 15-day disabled list with a right ankle contusion.
Schafer fouled a ball off his right foot last Wednesday in Kansas City and despite five days’ rest was still having problems running, which showed as he legged out a pinch-hit infield single Tuesday night against the Marlins.
This is Terdoslavich’s first major league call-up, and it’s coming on the heels of him being named to both the Futures All-Star game in conjunction with the Major League All-Star game, as well as the Triple-A All-Star game.
Terdoslavich is hitting .318 in 85 games for Gwinnett, with 24 doubles, one triple, 18 home runs and 58 RBIs in 85 games in Triple-A He is expected to join the Braves prior to their game Thursday night against the Marlins.
“Thank you everyone for your kind words,” Terdoslavich posted Thursday morning from his Twitter account @JoeTerdoslavich. “Excited for this opportunity that I have been given.”
Terdoslavich is a switch-hitting corner outfielder who broke a 65-year-old Carolina League record when he hit 52 doubles for Single-A Lynchburg in 2011.
Coming off that season, he was seen as a possible heir apparent to Chipper Jones at third base, but his transition to third base didn’t go well after the Braves promoted him directly from Lynchburg to Triple-A Gwinnett. But after being sent to Double-A Mississippi and moving to first base, Terdoslavich smoothed out his mechanics and was able to regain his offensive focus, hitting .315 in 78 games.
The Braves moved Terdoslavich to the outfield this spring, and he continued his good work at the plate. He impressed the Braves in his first stint in major league camp, hitting .395 in 26 games, with four doubles, one homer and eight RBI.
Brandon Beachy threw a 10-minute bullpen session Wednesday, his first extended side work since he starting throwing again after his setback with elbow inflammation. His elbow has responded well to each of his first three bullpen sessions, though he’s not yet on a timetable for a minor league rehabilitation assignment which would preclude his return from Tommy John surgery.
“The plan right now is to see how I feel tomorrow, and that’s it,” Beachy said. “I’ve felt good since I started throwing again. I feel like it’s cleared up in there.”