ATLANTA -- The Braves haven't ruled out the possibility that Dansby Swanson could suddenly become healthy enough to be placed on the National League Division Series roster. But when pressed about the shortstop's availability, manager Brian Snitker certainly did not seem optimistic."There's a chance, I don't know how great of
ATLANTA -- The Braves haven't ruled out the possibility that Dansby Swanson could suddenly become healthy enough to be placed on the National League Division Series roster. But when pressed about the shortstop's availability, manager Brian Snitker certainly did not seem optimistic.
"There's a chance, I don't know how great of one really," Snitker said. "We're just going to keep working on him and see."
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When Swanson was diagnosed with a torn ligament in his left hand last week, there was initially hope a few days of treatment and rehab would position him to be ready by the time the NLDS begins Thursday night against the Dodgers. But he has not swung a bat since feeling discomfort taking dry swings on Saturday.
With the likelihood Swanson will not be ready, the Braves will continue to fill the shortstop position with Charlie Culberson, who helped the Dodgers reach the World Series in 2017, when he admirably filled in for All-Star shortstop Corey Seager during the NL Championship Series.
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Culberson is not a defensive equal to Swanson, who was tied for sixth among MLB shortstops with 10 Defensive Runs Saved. But he certainly could provide more from an offensive perspective.
While Swanson hit 14 homers and recorded a .699 OPS, Culberson tallied a career-high 12 homers and constructed a .792 OPS over 296 at-bats.
Culberson went 5-for-11 with two doubles and a triple while filling in for Seager during last year's NLCS. He also homered in Game 2 of the World Series.
"I think that's a big plus for us, that if Dansby's not playing, we've got a guy with experience," Snitker said.
Snitker said the Braves have discussed the possibility of adding Swanson to the NLDS roster even if it is assumed he would be primarily limited to being a pinch-runner or a defensive replacement. But he did not seem too excited about that option.
"We've got to make sure he can handle the glove to be able to make [diving plays or backhand stops]," Snitker said. "Then say you put him with a one-run lead and the game gets tied and we got 14 or 15 innings and he's got to [bat] three or four times. You've got to think about that kind of stuff, too."
Snitker expects his NLDS roster to include Lucas Duda, who was bothered by a sore back that developed early last week. Duda took batting practice at SunTrust Park before the Braves traveled to Los Angeles on Tuesday afternoon.
"I feel really good about Lucas' availability," Snitker said. "We anticipate him being fine."
To guard against the possibility Duda might have a setback, the Braves have sent Rio Ruiz to their Spring Training facility to get at-bats in instructional league games. Ruiz will only be added to the roster if an injury creates the need for a left-handed bat.
With the Dodgers expected to start a pair of left-handers (Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jin Ryu), Snitker said he will likely bat Johan Camargo in the second spot of the lineup. Ozzie Albies' second-half success has essentially been limited to at-bats against southpaws. But Camargo has provided a sense of comfort when he's been placed between leadoff hitter Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman.
"I don't want to go out and reinvent the wheel all of the sudden," Snitker said. "I kind of like Camargo up there, because I think it balances our lineup pretty good when he's hitting second."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.