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Adonis caps successful set vs. former team

Initially signed out of Cuba and released by Yanks, 3B bats .462 including homer this weekend

There was a time when Adonis Garcia was considered a hot prospect by the New York Yankees.

That was back in 2012, when, at 27, he was signed out of Cuba. He rose through the system up to Triple-A in one year.

But the bloom began to come off the rose at the end of 2014, when he did not get a callup in September, despite hitting .319 with nine homers and 45 RBIs at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He was released at the end of Spring Training 2015, a victim of a numbers game both at third and in the outfield.

Garcia was signed by the Braves on April 7, and he got a measure of revenge against his former team this past weekend, batting a solid .462 (6-for-13) with a double, a homer, an RBI and two runs scored in the recently completed three-game series against the Yankees. He saved the best for last, putting up three hits, including a homer, in Sunday's 20-6 loss.

The outburst gave him his first back-to-back multi-hit games, his third in four games.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has been pleased with the way Garcia has been swinging, and he enjoyed being on the positive side of former players burning their old teams.

"It's about time we get the reverse," said Gonzalez. "Usually the [Brian] McCanns and the [Dan] Ugglas of the world have good outings against us. Garcia came from the Yankees, and I'm glad that he had a good series against them."

For his part, Garcia had no part in relishing his success against the Yanks.

"Regardless of who it is, I'm just happy to be putting good swings on the ball, swinging at good pitches and having success," he said, through a translator, assistant coach Horacio Ramirez. "It could have been any other team. It just happens to be the Yankees."

Garcia had two singles, then homered off reliever Branden Pinder, taking a 2-1 pitch out to left field. The blast, his seventh of the season, made him only the fourth Braves player to hit at least seven home runs within his first 34 games, joining Jeff Francoeur (10 after 34 games) and Jason Heyward and Evan Gattis, each of whom had eight.

Garcia, who has reached via hit in seven of the last eight games, batting .353 (12-for-34) over those eight, would have had his first four-hit game and probably another RBI, but his scorched liner up the middle with two out in the third was right at second baseman Stephen Drew, who was shifted and playing over second base.

Garcia's hot hitting has gotten his teammates' attention.

"He's been playing real well, especially this whole series. It seemed like he barreled up every single ball," said first baseman Freddie Freeman. "When you get to play every day, you get comfortable and you're going to get into a groove, and he's starting to do that."

"There's not really a scouting report on him. That being said, he's sticking to his strengths," said outfielder Jonny Gomes. "He's driving the ball to all fields, he's a tough out. He is a threat at the plate. He's been consistent day in and day out.

"Right now, it's day to day and game to game. One thing he's done is he's gotten beat on some pitches, and then the following series he's able to erase that scouting report. He's hit the heater, he's hit the offspeed. He's got everything covered. Now you just have to bottle it up and keep driving forward."

There could be a road-block ahead, however, as highly touted countryman Hector Olivera, also a 30-year-old third baseman, could be called up from Triple-A Gwinnett as soon as Tuesday, when the rosters expand.

It'll set up a nice competition and create the kind of decisions every manager loves to have. Gonzalez is no exception, although he preferred to table the discussion.

"Let's talk about that next week," he said with a smile.

Jon Cooper is a contributor to
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