MIAMI -- Braves manager Brian Snitker provided the ol' "I just want to get him in there" response when asked why he chose to use Ryan Flaherty as his starting third baseman for Friday night's matchup against Marlins right-hander Dan Straily.But Jose Bautista's less-than-inspiring first week as the Braves' primary
MIAMI -- Braves manager Brian Snitker provided the ol' "I just want to get him in there" response when asked why he chose to use Ryan Flaherty as his starting third baseman for Friday night's matchup against Marlins right-hander Dan Straily.
But Jose Bautista's less-than-inspiring first week as the Braves' primary third baseman has highlighted his woes against right-handed pitchers. Consequently, Snitker at least has reason to consider platooning Bautista with the left-handed-hitting Flaherty.
Bautista will be in the lineup for Saturday's matchup against Marlins' left-hander Jarlin Garcia. Snitker has not decided who will play third base when his team matches up against right-hander Jose Urena.
"I just want to get Flaherty more involved," Snitker said. "We're going to need him. So, I want to get him in there a little bit more."
Flaherty's productive tenure as the Braves' primary third baseman ended with last week's arrival of Bautista, who has gone 3-for-20 with four walks and four strikeouts since making his May 4 season debut. The 37-year-old veteran's lone extra-base hit was the double he delivered in his first plate appearance for Atlanta.
While Bautista might still have some power in his bat, his offensive value has declined significantly and he's now being asked to play a challenging position that he has not manned on a regular basis for more than a decade. But the Braves will certainly give Bautista more time to get in a groove and make up for the time he lost by not signing a Minor League deal until April 16.
Bautista has slashed .203/.310/.376 against right-handers since the start of 2017. Those numbers dip to .142/.246/.297 since last year's All-Star break. White Sox outfielder Adam Engel is the only Major Leaguer (minimum 200 at-bats) who has tallied a lower batting average and slugging percentage against righties dating back to last year's break.
Flaherty stands as the better defensive option at third base and he has exceeded expectations offensively since signing with the Braves on the final day of Spring Training. The 31-year-old utility man entered Friday with a .315 batting average and a .846 OPS.
"There's 12 position players that want to be in [the lineup] every day," Flaherty said. "If you don't, this game isn't for you. But when you sign up for the utility role, that comes with it. That's part of the game. You adjust as the roster adjusts. At certain times, you might be playing a different position. They might sign a guy and he might be playing one position. You never know. It's always something, so you stay ready."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.