NEW YORK -- A little more than six months from now, the Braves will open the 2017 season back at Citi Field.It would hardly be a surprise if Noah Syndergaard is the Mets' starter that day. It would hardly be a surprise if Dansby Swanson is the Braves' shortstop.And it
NEW YORK -- A little more than six months from now, the Braves will open the 2017 season back at Citi Field.
It would hardly be a surprise if Noah Syndergaard is the Mets' starter that day. It would hardly be a surprise if Dansby Swanson is the Braves' shortstop.
And it would hardly be a surprise if Swanson doesn't look at all intimidated when he comes to the plate.
The Braves' rookie didn't look out of place against Syndergaard on Monday night, with two hits in two at-bats against one of the best pitchers in baseball. Two hits, one on a 100-mph fastball and another on one clocked at 98 mph.
"He had really good at-bats," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "That's the whole idea of why we wanted him here. Now, going to Spring Training, he's not going to be in awe of anything. He's getting a jump-start on guys he'll face next year."
The Braves still won't officially say that Swanson is here for good, and that he'll be their starting shortstop from Day 1 in 2017. But there's no question they've been impressed by what they've seen since his Aug. 17 callup.
"This is a winning player, a special player," general manager John Coppolella said.
Snitker compared Swanson's demeanor as a rookie with what he remembers from being around Tom Glavine and John Smoltz at a similar age.
"You could have a conversation with them," he said.
They weren't overwhelmed, and neither is Swanson.
"He's a wonderful young guy," Snitker said. "I haven't met his parents, but they should be commended on how they raised the young man."
When Swanson first joined the Braves from Double-A Mississippi, Snitker protected him by arranging days off when the Braves faced a big-name starter. Swanson didn't start against Zack Greinke or Madison Bumgarner, and he was out of the lineup twice against Max Scherzer.
As Swanson settled in, though, there was less need to protect him. He has been in the lineup for each of the Braves' last 13 games through Tuesday, and when he has faced a big-time starter, he has still had success.
Swanson singled off José Fernández of the Marlins, walked and doubled against Scherzer and had the two hits off Syndergaard Monday.
"The kid's handled everything," Snitker said. "Just like we thought he would."
He handled Syndergaard Monday, and maybe he will next April, as well.
Danny Knobler is a contributor to MLB.com based in New York.