Jose Bautista will be the Braves’ starting third baseman whenever he joins the big league club. The Braves signed Bautista, 37, to a minor league deal April 18 and announced the long-time outfielder as a third baseman, a position he hadn’t regularly manned in a decade. But that’s the inevitability in the Braves clubhouse. Manager Brian Snitker confirmed Bautista will start at third when he’s promoted, supplanting Ryan Flaherty, the National League’s leading hitter with a .362 average through 20 games. “He’s going to play third when he comes up,” Snitker said of Bautista. “He’s in good shape. That’d be what happens.” Bautista has eight straight 20-homer seasons. He represents the right-handed power the Braves are starving for in their regular lineup. After going 2-for-7 with a double in two games with the High-A Florida Fire Frogs, the Braves promoted Bautista to Triple-A Gwinnett, where he’ll debut in Monday’s doubleheader. “From what I’ve heard, he’s close,” Snitker said. “I think he needs to see some better pitching right now, in his eyes. That’s why he’s going to Triple-A.” In benching Flaherty, the Braves would essentially be cashing their chips in early on the 31-year old’s career-best start. Aside from leading the league in average, Flaherty has a homer, eight RBIs and a .500 slugging percentage while adding reliable defense at third. Bautista’s arrival would shift him back to the utility role he served the past six seasons with the Orioles. “I haven’t really even thought about it, to be honest with you,” Flaherty told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Monday. Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos was with the Blue Jays front office when they acquired Bautista in 2008. Bautista experienced his best seasons under Anthopoulos, and that relationship played a role in him declining a more lucrative offer from another team to join the Braves.
Jose Bautista will be Braves starting third baseman
Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Apr 23