Former manager Bobby Cox used to deploy what came to be known as the Sunday lineup -- starting four or five bench players once a week, usually on a day game after a night game.
That's not how new manager Fredi Gonzalez is going to keep his starters fresh and his reserves sharp. Instead, he's planning to give all the regulars a day off over the course of the current four-game series against the Brewers in Milwaukee.
Monday was catcher Brian McCann's turn -- although he came on late as part of the switches Gonzalez made when he went to the bullpen.
Third baseman Chipper Jones is tentatively scheduled for his day off on this Thursday -- a day game after a night game.
It's a smart plan made easier to pull off by the fact that the Braves are clicking early. (The blip about putting right-hander Jair Jurrjens on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right oblique notwithstanding.)
Cox used to point out to skeptics the beauty of his way -- having three or four top-line hitters to call upon if the Braves were down in the late innings.
Gonzalez's idea makes it less likely the Braves will be down in the late innings in the first place. Not to mention that his way doesn't cause the total upheaval of the lineup as Cox's did.
So when, for example, McCann was replaced by catcher David Ross -- who is no clean-up hitter, despite his consistency -- Ross slid into the eighth spot in the order and everyone in the usual 5, 6, 7 and 8 spots moved up one. That made second baseman Dan Uggla the clean-up hitter and moved right fielder Jason Heyward into the fifth spot, where he was still in a power position.
On Tuesday, the first night game the Braves have played, rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman sat down, giving utility man Eric Hinske the start at first base, and hitting eighth, which is Freeman's spot in the order. (Freeman grounded out when he pinch-hit in the ninth.)
Copyright (C) 2011 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.