WASHINGTON -- Now that Daniel Castro has returned to the Major League level, the Braves have the option to defensively upgrade their shortstop position. But Erick Aybar will be given some more time to prove he can still capably handle the position on a daily basis.Castro was recalled from Triple-A
WASHINGTON -- Now that Daniel Castro has returned to the Major League level, the Braves have the option to defensively upgrade their shortstop position. But Erick Aybar will be given some more time to prove he can still capably handle the position on a daily basis.
Castro was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett on Wednesday to fill the roster spot that was vacated when Hector Olivera was placed on the restricted list after being arrested for allegedly assaulting a woman at the team's hotel in Pentagon City, Va., early Wednesday morning.
Because Jeff Francoeur, Drew Stubbs and Kelly Johnson are all capable of playing left field in Olivera's absence, the Braves did not have a need to fill the open roster spot with an outfielder. But Aybar's recent defensive woes have led them to recently discuss whether there's a need to find a more reliable solution at shortstop.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez indicated he plans to stick with Aybar as his primary shortstop and utilize Castro as a versatile utility infielder and potential late-inning defensive replacement. But this plan could change if Aybar continues to struggle defensively.
"I like Danny Castro. I feel like he made an impact for us last year," Gonzalez said. "So, if there is a matchup that you like or any of those infielders need a day off, I wouldn't hesitate a bit to run him in there."
Aybar faces a tough challenge, as he is being evaluated by eyes that had the pleasure of watching the incomparable Andrelton Simmons serve as Atlanta's shortstop over the past few seasons. But Aybar's inability to match Simmons' defensive excellence has not been as alarming as his inability to make routine plays on a consistent basis.
There is a chance the Braves will eventually utilize Castro as their primary shortstop and transition Aybar to second base. But for now, they will give the 32-year-old Aybar a chance to prove he still has some of the defensive skills that helped him to win an American League Gold Glove Award in 2011.
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 the sure-handed Castro would provide a defensive upgrade, and his offensive production might at least be somewhat similar to what the Braves would get if Jace Peterson and Gordon Beckham were to continue manning second base.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.