With Bourn resting, Pastornicky leads off

With Bourn resting, Pastornicky leads off

With Bourn resting, Pastornicky leads off
ATLANTA -- The Braves like what they've seen with Michael Bourn at the top of the order and in center field.

But everybody needs a day off, and Wednesday night was Bourn's turn.

When the Braves opened their two-game set with the Marlins, they fielded a lineup with rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky hitting leadoff and Jason Heyward shifting from right field to center. Juan Francisco, playing third to spell Chipper Jones, batted in Pastornicky's eighth spot.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez admitted that he had two different lineups for the game, one with Pastornicky leading off and another with left fielder Martin Prado batting first. While Prado has more Major League experience leading off -- 132 games worth and a .297 average in that spot -- Gonzalez chose the former after conferring with his staff.

"I sat down with [bench coach] Carlos [Tosca] and the coaches and said, 'What do you think?'" Gonzalez said. "They said, 'Run Tyler out there. Let him lead off. We know he's done it in the Minor Leagues. We'll do it that way.'"

The batting order, with Prado batting second, also required fewer personnel shifts as Pastornicky was the only one moving.

"You put Prado first, then you have to put Pastornicky second and you're messing with the whole cohesiveness of the lineup," said Gonzalez. "So it's just one move."

Prado may be the only batter in the Braves' lineup who is as hot as Bourn, who came into Wednesday night riding a seven-game hitting streak, during which he's hit .433 (13-for-30). But Pastornicky has began to heat up, as well.

Pastornicky, who comes into the Marlins series hitting .269, is riding a four-game hitting streak of his own, during which he's hitting .313, and over the last 20 games, he has hit .328 (21-for-64), raising his average from .171.

Gonzalez believes that Pastornicky has the approach and the speed to be a leadoff hitter at the Major League level.

"In his future, I think he's a top-of-the-order type hitter," the manager said. "The way he's been able to get on base, swing the bat and use his speed, he's a tough out. So we'll see."

"I'm excited," said the 22-year-old shortstop, who had hit eighth in all 28 of his starts in his rookie campaign. "It's going to be fun to hit in the first inning and try to get something going early. As far as I'm concerned about approach, I think it's just kind of the same at-bats I've been having. I don't think I really have to change anything."

Pastornicky didn't know he was hitting leadoff until he arrived at Turner Field. Not quite the advance that Bourn got.

"He hasn't earned that three days' advance yet," Gonzalez said with a laugh.

The defensive shift of Heyward to center field -- with Matt Diaz starting in right -- is a much better-known quantity for Gonzalez, who played Heyward in center several times during the spring in anticipation of days like Wednesday.

"I know what he can do. We saw it in Spring Training." said Gonzalez. "He's very athletic, he can do it and I think he likes it.

"We're dealing with human beings. Every once in a while you throw them a bone and say, 'Go play center.' He's going to be fine."

While it was tough to sit Bourn, who has been scaling the ball at the plate, the move was a necessity to save the speedster's legs during the stretch of 32 games in 33 days.

"He's a little banged up right now. Nothing major, just the legs are a little banged up and we chose [Miami left-handed starter Mark] Buehrle to give him a day off," said Gonzalez. "He knew this was going to happen three, four days ago. I don't like to surprise any of my players."

Gonzalez hinted that Heyward's day in center and Bourn's day off might be abbreviated.

"If we're winning in the seventh inning, guess what? [Heyward] goes back to right and Bournie goes into center," Gonzalez said. "It will only be like seven innings off, not the whole game."