SEATTLE -- With the Mariners starting left-handed pitcher Erik Bedard on Monday night, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez constructed a unique lineup. But he doesn't plan to keep Jason Heyward in the leadoff spot over the course of the next few days or weeks.
Somewhat by default Heyward was placed in the leadoff spot for the first time in his career. With Bedard having limited left-handed hitters to a .205 (16-for-78) batting average, Gonzalez decided this would be a good day to rest Jordan Schafer, who has batted just .118 (4-for-34) against left-handers this year.
Bedard's presence also led Gonzalez to give the right-handed-hitting Wilkin Ramirez just his second start of the season. With Nate McLouth moving to center field to fill Schafer's void, Ramirez started in left field.
- 131 wins
- 121 wins
"We'll just give [Schafer] a little breather," Gonzalez said. "Plus you've got to be able to use Ramirez. That's when he's going to be used, against a left-handed pitcher. We've got three left-handed outfielders. If he's not going to be able to spell a guy against a tough lefty, when are you going to use him?"
Gonzalez's lineup also looked a little bit odd with Chipper Jones serving as the designated hitter and Julio Lugo making his 24th career start at third base. The 35-year-old Lugo, who spent most of his career as a shortstop, entered the game having hit .265 in 34 career at-bats against Bedard. No other Braves player had totaled more than nine at-bats against the left-hander.
Instead of moving McLouth out of the eighth spot, where he has found some success the past couple days, Gonzalez opted to assign the leadoff role to Heyward, who had hit .265 with a .348 on-base percentage since being activated from the disabled list on June 15.
Gonzalez said Schafer will return to the leadoff role Tuesday.
"For me, that's the place he's got to hit," Gonzalez said.
Venters flashing All-Star-worthy numbers
SEATTLE -- Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said Monday afternoon he had not yet spoken to Giants manager Bruce Bochy about Jonny Venters or any of the other Braves who might gain an All-Star selection when the rosters are announced Sunday.
Venters' All-Star credentials were bordering on ridiculous before he allowed a career-high four earned runs with two outs in Sunday's loss to the Padres. Still, even though his stats have been marred, the Braves' setup man could still end up as one of the relievers on Bochy's National League squad. He could be chosen via player voting or as one of the final selections chosen by Bochy in consultation with other managers and the Commissioner's Office.
Venters still entered Monday ranked fourth among NL relievers with a 1.29 ERA and first with 49 innings -- 2 2/3 more than any other Major League reliever. He has limited opponents to a .171 batting average and an NL-low .195 slugging percentage.
Venters nearly went through the season's first three months virtually unharmed and might have kept his ERA below 1.00. Things could have ended different Sunday had he reacted with more urgency to Cameron Maybin's swinging bunt or at least fielded Jason Bartlett's game-tying, two-out single that skipped off his glove.
This marked just the fourth time in 44 appearances that Venters allowed a run this year. In each of the other three instances, he surrendered just one earned run.
Braves hope to get Prado back before break
SEATTLE -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez received more encouraging news regarding Martin Prado on Monday and said his left fielder will likely continue to increase his workload as this week progresses. Prado has been sidelined since being diagnosed with staph infection June 9.
The Braves' medical staff has informed Gonzalez that the cut on Prado's right calf has continued to close over the past few days. Prado was cleared to begin taking swings off a tee Friday and is now doing some exercises with a medicine ball.
Gonzalez said there is a chance Prado will be cleared to begin running and doing more baseball-related drills later this week. The Braves are hopeful he could return before the All-Star break.
Tommy Hanson said he has no concerns about his shoulder entering Tuesday night's start against the Mariners. This will be his first start since he was diagnosed with right shoulder tendinitis and placed on the disabled list June 17 (retroactive to June 13).
This weeks trip to Seattle is a homecoming of sorts for three Braves players. Derek Lowe, George Sherrill and Eric O'Flaherty each started their professional careers and made their Major League debuts with the Mariners.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.