Schafer set to return to pre-injury success
ATLANTA -- Braves outfielder Jordan Schafer was adamant that his at-bats had steadily improved during his eight rehab games with Triple-A Gwinnett, even if the numbers left him frustrated in the retelling of his 2-for-32 showing.
"The last [five games], I literally lined out nine times -- I'm not exaggerating," Schafer said on Saturday afternoon after he was activated from the 15-day disabled list. "It was unbelievable. They were all making fun of me, saying everything would be broken in the dugout if the at-bats actually counted, and I was like, 'Yeah, you're probably right.'"
After missing a total of 32 games with a right ankle contusion, Schafer will be expected to return to the level he was playing at in late June before he fouled a ball off his right foot June 26 against the Royals that ultimately led to the trip to the DL.
"He's the same guy, for me, that left before he got hurt," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "Fourth outfielder, he's a leadoff hitter, he can steal you a base. Hopefully he has the success he had before the injury."
Though his Gwinnett teammates gave him a hard time for not jumpstarting their offense, Schafer was able to use the game action to knock off the rust from such a long time away from the field.
"The first three or four games, especially at the plate, timing-wise I was really off," Schafer said. "Just missing six weeks or whatever it was, it's a big adjustment, especially since it's a lot different than just hitting BP, getting out there and seeing live pitching. That was probably the biggest thing for me, and then being able to go out there and trust myself to run full speed and not have to worry about everything."
Schafer compared that trust-building aspect of his rehab to the process he went through during his recovery from multiple injuries to his left hand in the early years of his career. Back at Turner Field and available for Saturday night's game, he was ready to finally take part in the Braves' recent hot streak, making an impact with his speed on the basepaths and in the outfield until those line drives start falling.
"I'm ready to be back," Schafer said. "Obviously, it's an exciting place right now to be, and I'm excited to get back on the field."