The Braves are delighted to have made it out of Philadelphia after winning two in a three-game weekend series. And the rotation and bullpen have been terrific.
But general manger Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez see two areas of concern: lack of speed and lack of consistent right-handed hitting off the bench.
Infielder Brooks Conrad is a switch hitter and has come up with a couple of key walk-off hits in his two seasons with the Braves, but he does not hit consistently, and he has been a liability in the field.
Saturday's experiment, when he came in to play first base in a double switch late worked out, but the Braves aren't planning to give up the advantage of starting first-baseman Freddie Freeman's height and flexibility.
Infielder Brandon Hicks was batting .100 in limited appearances when he was optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett over the weekend to make room for right-hander Julio Teheran, who started Saturday against the Phillies.
When Teheran was sent back to Gwinnett the next day, as planned, shortstop Diory Hernandez was called up. He was hitting .258 at Triple-A.
Hernandez was getting regular at-bats while playing shortstop, second and third. He won't be doing that with the Braves.
Infielder-outfielder Joe Mather gives Gonzalez options on defense, but nothing on offense. And he isn't a speedster, either.
Left fielder Martin Prado and center fielder Nate McLouth, currently leading off and batting eighth, respectively, are the fastest Braves, but they are thrown out at second on attempted steals on a regular basis. Manufactured runs are rare.
As good as the Braves are feeling about themselves, they are nevertheless in third place in the National League East, five games behind the Phillies in the loss column.
And the Phillies have been playing without second baseman Chase Utley.
Neither the need for speed nor the bat help is likely to be addressed soon. While Wren continues to look at all possibilities, he knows that other clubs won't be ready to make any trades for another two months, until the see how their own clubs are shaking out.
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