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Snitker moving pitchers back to 9th in lineup

MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Braves manager Brian Snitker reluctantly relented to the front office's suggestion to begin batting his starting pitcher in the eighth spot of the lineup. But he is now done with what proved to be a short-term experiment.

"I don't like it," Snitker said. "We might go back to it some. I didn't like it when I did it before. I did it for a specific purpose. But I'm going to go back to hitting the pitcher ninth."

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ST. PETERSBURG -- Braves manager Brian Snitker reluctantly relented to the front office's suggestion to begin batting his starting pitcher in the eighth spot of the lineup. But he is now done with what proved to be a short-term experiment.

"I don't like it," Snitker said. "We might go back to it some. I didn't like it when I did it before. I did it for a specific purpose. But I'm going to go back to hitting the pitcher ninth."

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When the Braves return to a National League park to begin a four-game series against the Marlins on Thursday, Snitker will once again utilize the traditional lineup configuration. Ender Inciarte and Ozzie Albies might now platoon in the leadoff role. Entering Wednesday, Inciarte was slashing .279/.325/.360 against right-handed pitchers and .129/.206/.129 against left-handed pitchers. Albies was slashing .225/.281/.468 vs. righties and .459/.447/.946 vs. lefties.

On those days when they are not in the leadoff spot, Albies and Inciarte might be best utilized near the bottom of the order. This would at least allow the Braves to enhance the number of plate appearances for Ronald Acuna Jr., who has found quick comfort batting second.

Video: ATL@TB: Acuna crushes a 434-ft. homer to left field

Snitker felt there were too many instances where batting the pitcher eighth weakened a scoring threat. He also felt while batting the pitcher eighth and placing Inciarte in the ninth spot, he increased the difficulty of finding prime spots to make a double switch.

"I don't particularly like that game," Snitker said. "I think there are times when it might be good. But just overall, it just feels like the pitcher comes up more than one [spot] ahead of where he normally would be."

Snitker altered his lineup arrangement on April 29, when he placed Albies in the leadoff spot, moved Acuna up to the two hole and moved Inciarte from the top to the bottom spot of the lineup. The Braves averaged 5.7 runs during the seven games this arrangement was used. They had averaged 5.4 runs in 26 games played before the change was made.

Video: ATL@NYM: Inciarte belts a 2-run homer to right-center

Honorary bat girl
As part of MLB's Going to Bat Against Breast Cancer initiative, the Braves have selected Paige Harris as this year's honorary bat girl. Harris will receive pink MLB merchandise and be recognized during a pregame ceremony that will be staged before a game at SunTrust Park later this month.

Harris was diagnosed with breast cancer on Oct. 4 and immediately drew upon the experience of her mother, who battled the same disease. The Cobb County resident began chemotherapy in October and underwent surgery in March. As she went through this span she continued to fulfill the duties that earned her the honor of being voted Pine Mountain Middle School Teacher of the Year for 2017-18.

Celebrating Mother's Day on Sunday, MLB players will wear newly designed caps highlighted by a pink crown and team color brim. Uniforms will feature a pink ribbon on the left chest. A matching pair of pink socks is optional for every player. Players will also have the opportunity to use pink bats during Mother's Day games. Louisville Slugger, the official bat of Major League Baseball, will donate proceeds from the sale of their pink bats, which will be stamped with the MLB breast cancer awareness logo, to Susan G. Komen and Stand Up To Cancer.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves, Matt Bowman