Stubbs begins 3-day audition with Braves

OF signed Minors deal with Atlanta on Wednesday, feels club is good fit

Stubbs begins 3-day audition with Braves

SARASOTA , Fla. -- Given the oddity of his current opportunity, it was only fitting that Drew Stubbs' first official day with the Braves' organization began with a cross-country flight, followed by extra batting practice before his two-hour drive to Sarasota to begin what is essentially a three-day audition for a spot on Atlanta's Opening Day roster.

"Obviously, these are unique circumstances with just a week left in camp," said Stubbs, who went 0-for-1 with a walk in Thursday's 6-1 loss to the Orioles. "Really, all I'm looking to do is come in here, showcase what I can do for a few days and see how it all shakes out."

When the Braves announced Jeff Francoeur would be on their Opening Day roster, it appeared they would create a spot by bidding adieu to either Emilio Bonifacio or Michael Bourn. But once they signed Stubbs to a Minor League deal on Wednesday, it was obvious that they were not necessarily comfortable entering the season with Bonifacio or Bourn serving as one of their backup outfielders.

Stubbs opted out of his Minor League deal with the Rangers on Tuesday because he was seeking the chance to begin the season at the big league level. The Braves provided this opportunity as they targeted him as a right-handed hitter who could provide solid defense in center field and provide some speed off the bench.

"We're going to give him an opportunity," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He can do a lot of good things. He's got some juice. He's a right-handed hitter, which kind of fits. We'll see where he's at."

Upon learning of his deal with the Braves, Stubbs took an overnight flight that landed in Orlando, Fla., around 5 a.m. A few hours later, he was taking extra batting practice with hitting coach Kevin Seitzer at the Braves' Spring Training complex. A few more hours later, the fatigued veteran played both left and center field during the final four innings of Wednesday's loss to the Orioles.

Stubbs is expected to start in center field on Friday, when Rays left-hander Adam Wilk is slated to start. The 31-year-old outfielder is coming off a disappointing season during which he produced a .665 OPS over 140 plate appearances with the Rockies and Rangers.

Although the left-handed-hitting Bourn provides a strong presence in the clubhouse, he does not necessarily provide the same kind of fit as the right-handed Stubbs. If the Braves want to sit Ender Inciarte against a tough left-handed pitcher, they'll go with a right-handed option, and they would feel more comfortable utilizing Stubbs instead of Francoeur in center field.

Bourn's potential value as a pinch-hitter is diminished by the fact that the Braves have more of a need to have a group of right-handed bench players to complement their left-handed-heavy lineup.

"The Braves were among the first teams to reach out, and they were pretty adamant that there was a potential fit and they wanted to get some eyes on me," Stubbs said. "I felt under the circumstances, this was probably the best fit I could have at this time. So I took it, and we'll see where we go."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.