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Braves want to test Garcia's versatility

ATLANTA -- Adonis Garcia has provided the Braves some offensive consistency while spending the past month serving as their primary third baseman. But he will see his playing time diminished when fellow 30-year-old Cuban third baseman Hector Olivera makes his much-anticipated arrival to the Major League level on Tuesday.

With Olivera likely to get most of the starts at third base over the remainder of the season, the Braves will need to find ways to keep Garcia's bat in their lineup as frequently as possible. Before Monday night's game against the Marlins, Garcia took some grounders at second base.

"We love [Garcia's] bat," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I've explained this to Garcia, he's done everything we want him to do offensively and he's been really impressive. We know he can play third and we know we can run him out there in left field. One of our scouts who had scouted him a long time ago, said this guy can play a little second base."

Though the Braves are committed to continue utilizing Jace Peterson as their starting second baseman, they simply want to see how versatile Garcia might be. The jury is still out about how much range he could cover while playing second base. But while hitting .268 with seven homers and a .773 OPS through the first 34 games of his career, the former Yankees farmhand has shown he has a capable bat.

Garcia could also continue to see some time at third base as the Braves continue to get a feel for what they have in Olivera, whose recent struggles during a Minor League rehab stint have lessened the expectations that surrounded him when the Dodgers signed him to a six-year, $62.5 million deal earlier this year.

The Braves were willing to part ways with both top prospect Jose Peraza and Alex Wood to acquire Olivera from the Dodgers on July 30. But they have not yet seen him produce the encouraging results they were seeking as he spent the past few weeks recovering from a left hamstring strain that originally sidelined him on June 20.

Olivera batted just .196 with a .523 OPS in the 56 plate appearances he compiled while completing rehab stints with Class A Rome and Triple-A Gwinnett over the past two weeks. He did record a double in each of the final three games he played for Gwinnett this past weekend.

The Braves transferred Olivera to their Class A Advanced Carolina roster on Monday. This was just a procedural move to create a roster spot for Barrett Kleinknecht to be promoted from Double-A Mississippi to Gwinnett's roster.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for Listen to his podcast.
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