CINCINNATI -- The Braves have not yet determined exactly how they will split time between Adonis Garcia and Rio Ruiz at third base. But Garcia's return from the disabled list gave them yet another chance to tinker with the makeup of a bench that no longer includes Jace Peterson or
CINCINNATI -- The Braves have not yet determined exactly how they will split time between Adonis Garcia and Rio Ruiz at third base. But Garcia's return from the disabled list gave them yet another chance to tinker with the makeup of a bench that no longer includes Jace Peterson or Emilio Bonifacio.
Before Friday night's series opener in Cincinnati, the Braves made a flurry of roster moves, which included Peterson being optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett and Bonifacio being designated for assignment. The vacated roster spots were filled by Garcia, who had spent the past two weeks on the DL with left Achilles tendinitis, and Johan Camargo, who was recalled from Gwinnett.
The Braves also activated left-handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty from the disabled list and optioned Matt Wisler to Gwinnett. O'Flaherty spent the past week recovering from the occasional back discomfort that has plagued him throughout his career.
Providing a clear indication of the concerns the Braves have had regarding their bench since the end of Spring Training, Bonifacio entered this season as their primary pinch-hit option. He went 2-for-26 as a pinch-hitter and he has a .405 OPS over 169 plate appearances since the start of the 2015 season. The only two players to produce a lower OPS while tallying at least 160 plate appearances within that span are Jonathan Lester (.255) and Clayton Kershaw (.365).
Before the Braves began this road trip last week, it appeared they were leaning toward allowing Ruiz to draw a majority of the playing time at third base, while serving as the left-handed-hitting portion of the platoon.
But when Garcia was placed in Friday night's starting lineup against Reds right-hander Bronson Arroyo, Braves manager Brian Snitker made it clear he doesn't plan to use a strict platoon.
"Right now, I might play Adonis a couple days in a row and give Rio a day," Snitker said. "We don't see any left-handers ever. It would be hard to platoon. We'll just kind of work Adonis back in there."
When Garcia was placed on the disabled list on May 17, he ranked last among MLB's qualified third basemen in both fWAR (-0.5) and Weighted Runs Created Plus (65). So, it is certainly somewhat surprising to see that the Braves might be willing to give him regular playing time instead of allowing Ruiz the chance to essentially remain an everyday player.
Ruiz has some defensive limitations and he still swings and misses a little too frequently (15 strikeouts through the 45 at-bats tallied since being promoted from Gwinnett on May 18). But the assumption was that as long as he was at the big-league level, he'd get a majority of the reps at third base.
"I'm going to do the best I can to give opportunities to both of them," Snitker said. "Hopefully, we can get a lot out of the position."
Peterson made a couple defensive miscues that turned what could have been a seven-pitch third inning on Tuesday into the nine-run inning the Angels planted on Bartolo Colon. But a primary reason the Braves opted to replace him with Camargo was the fact he has just six hits in his past 52 at-bats.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.