TAMPA, Fla. -- As a 30-year-old Minor Leaguer who seemingly did not have enough power potential to compensate for his defensive woes, Adonis Garcia stood as nothing more than an offensively capable emergency option until the Braves essentially exhausted all of their other third-base options last year.When the Braves traded
TAMPA, Fla. -- As a 30-year-old Minor Leaguer who seemingly did not have enough power potential to compensate for his defensive woes, Adonis Garcia stood as nothing more than an offensively capable emergency option until the Braves essentially exhausted all of their other third-base options last year.
When the Braves traded Kelly Johnson and Juan Uribe to the Mets on July 24, they knew they had no desire to utilize Chris Johnson as their starting third baseman. But they had no reason to anticipate what they would receive when they instead gave this role to Garcia, who had been released by the Yankees at the end of Spring Training.
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"Some things happen for a reason," Garcia said, with Braves bullpen coach Eddie Perez serving as an interpreter. "I knew I was just going to continue playing the same way. I didn't change anything. I knew I had some power. I knew I could hit the ball better and when I got released, I knew I was going to have the opportunity to go play for somebody else."
Still, even if a change of scenery served as an elixir, there was no reason to expect Garcia would hit 10 homers in 191 at-bats and join Bob Tillman as the only players in Braves history with double-digit homers in less than 200 at-bats in a season. He had just 21 homers in 1,096 Minor League at-bats, and just three of those came in 331 at-bats at Triple-A Gwinnett last year.
"It was not too surprising because the last year I played in Cuba, I hit  homers," said Garcia, who left Cuba in 2011. "I knew I was going to hit homers at some point."
Though it remains to be seen whether Garcia can maintain last year's power pace, the Braves have seen enough from him offensively to take a chance despite his 10 errors in 96 chances at third last year.
Kelly Johnson could spend some time at third when the Braves want to sit Garcia against a right-hander, and the Braves could use Gordon Beckham or Jace Peterson as a late-inning defensive replacement at the hot corner.
But it appears Garcia will at least have an opportunity to prove last year's success was not a fluke. If he is capable of extending his power surge, he could provide the Braves a right-handed power bat in the middle of their lefty-heavy lineup.
"It helped a lot, the way I played last year because I now know the big leagues and I'm going to have a better year this year," Garcia said.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.