Center fielder Jordan Schafer has made it back to the majors and most likely sent starting center fielder Nate McLouth, who is on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained left oblique, back to the bench for the remainder of the season.
Yes, his left wrist is healthy after a grueling two years of surgeries and rehabs, which could have been greatly reduced had he owned up to the injury sooner.
But the main reason he is here is the direct result of a conversation he had with veteran third baseman Chipper Jones in spring training.
What, Schafer asked Jones then, do I need to do to make this team?
"I told him flat out, 'You don't make enough contact to hit up in the lineup here,'" Jones said. "I said, 'When you realize what this club needs you to do -- and that's hit high in the lineup, first or second, play good defense in center field -- you've got to put the ball in play. You've got to utilize your speed.
"'Not just put the ball in play, you've got to put the ball in play on the ground, you've got to put the ball in play to the left side, and be the table-setter. And until you start doing those things, there's no need for you here.'"
Schafer is doing all of that. He's being selective. He's earning walks. He's putting the ball in play. He's igniting the offense, which is what the Braves have needed for a while, a guy who can hit at the top of the lineup and be a force.
"I think I just told him something that nobody else would," Jones said. "I think sometimes we take it for granted that a guy knows he's going to be a leadoff hitter here in the big leagues and they just automatically know what to do."
Jones knows that Schafer "will get kind of homer-happy on you every once in a while if he hits a couple, and that's not what we need. We don't need a Napoleonic lead-off hitter. We don't need somebody with that complex. I'd much rather have that guy who's satisfied with a single and able to steal second."
From his third baseman's point of view, a guy who can bunt and run puts a lot of pressure on the opposition.
"A guy who can bunt and run, I'm going to take that away from him," Jones said. "That's means I'm going to play close to the plate. It opens up holes on the left side of the infield, if I've got to play that far in. It's a big threat to have."
Schafer got on base three times in Monday's 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Padres, including by a two-out walk in the bottom of the ninth. Running on his own, he was called out trying to steal second base. "I was safe," he said after looking at the video. "But we're all going to make mistakes."
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