ATLANTA -- Martin Prado has become recognized as an unselfish hard-working player who can prove successful in a variety of roles. But the past couple of weeks have provided indication that Prado is starting to feel the effects of a long season.
Sensing he needed a chance to rest, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez did not put Prado in the starting lineup for Thursday night's series finale against the Marlins. Prado had started 75 of the previous 76 games the Braves had played dating back to early May, when he missed two consecutive starts because of the flu.
"Certain guys, you can tell when they need a breather once in a while," Gonzalez said. "And like we talked about, we've been riding them pretty hard, those three guys in the outfield."
Newly acquired backup outfielder Reed Johnson started in left field on Thursday in place of Prado, who went 0-for-5 and hit into two double plays during Wednesday night's loss. Center fielder Michael Bourn rested while Johnson made his Braves debut on Wednesday.
When June concluded, Prado was hitting .323 with a .387 on-base percentage and .467 slugging percentage. He has batted .235 with a .272 on-base percentage and .296 slugging percentage in 27 games since the start of July.
"Whenever he struggles, he drifts," Braves third baseman Chipper Jones said. "And when he gets out on that front foot, he's committing a little early. Instead of driving that ball into the off field and slashing the ball to the off field like we've seen him do hundreds of times, he's basically just flipping the ball to first and second. It's because he's not staying on his back side long enough. It's something that has to be addressed and fixed."