Braves mulling over options at shortstop

With Aybar struggling, Castro could be called up soon

April 10th, 2016
Erick Aybar has been struggling at shortstop, so the Braves could seek another player to fill the role. (AP)

ATLANTA -- Erick Aybar faces the tough challenge of satisfying eyes that have been treated to Andrelton Simmons' defensive excellence over the past few years. But Aybar's struggle to consistently make routine plays through this season's first week has created reason to wonder how long the Braves can afford to keep him at shortstop.

The Braves might not make a rash decision this early in the season. But after watching Aybar struggle with his footwork and make a few errant throws to throws to first base through the first four games, they are at least contemplating making a change within the near future.

While fans are already clamoring for Dansby Swanson or Ozzie Albies to make the leap to the Majors, the Braves are obviously not even considering messing with the development of these two highly-regarded prospects, ranked No. 1 and No. 3, respectively.

But if Aybar continues to struggle in the field and provide the daily reminder that he was acquired in the same deal that sent Simmons to the Angels, the Braves might opt to move him to second base and promote the sure-handed Daniel Castro from Triple-A Gwinnett to serve as their primary shortstop. This arrangement could lead the team to send Jace Peterson to Gwinnett to play on a daily basis.

Offensive potential has long been the knock against Castro, who batted .240, collected a pair of home runs and compiled a .606 OPS over 100 plate appearances for Atlanta last year.

But Castro would provide a defensive upgrade at the shortstop position, and his offensive production might at least be somewhat similar to what the Braves would get if Peterson and Gordon Beckham continue to man the second-base position. Peterson and Beckham entered Sunday having combined to go 1-for-15 with six strikeouts.

Odds and ends:

• Emilio Bonifacio has rejoined the Braves on a Minor League deal, and he will spend at least the next few days playing for Triple-A Gwinnett. Bonifacio has not played since the Braves designated him for assignment on April 2.

• The Braves surrendered 14 hits and issued nine walks during Saturday's 12-2 loss to the Cardinals. This marked just the eighth time dating back to 1991 that an Atlanta pitching staff reached both of these totals in a game that did not require more than nine innings.