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Tyler Pastornicky Providing Spark from Eighth Spot

May 1st, 2012 at 8:42 PM
By Cody Fields

Tyler Pastornicky got a day off April 16 when his batting average was sitting at .136. In the past couple of weeks, however, the Atlanta Braves rookie shortstop has shown signs of finally putting it together.

Since that fateful day off, when it seemed the Braves' plans to have Pastornicky start at shortstop until Andrelton Simmons was ready in a couple years time were falling apart, the Reverend went on a tear. Going into Tuesday's series opener with the Philadelphia Phillies, Pastornicky has raised his to .262 in just 11 games.

Pastornicky's good fortune started April 17 when he drove in two with a hit and scored against the New York Mets. It continued the next day with two hits and two more runs, eventually culminating April 24 in Los Angeles when he put together a three-hit game.

In all, Pastornicky has hit .333 over the last eight games. And though he has not stolen any bases from the eight hole, which is generally considered almost like a second leadoff, that same 11-game sample has seen Pastornicky get on base at a .381 clip, far better than the .208 rate of his first seven games played.

Many also expected Pastornicky to struggle defensively, citing a lack of range and footwork, but the rookie shortstop has only made two errors in the first month of play while making most of the plays he is supposed to make.

Playing for a team that is currently ranked first in the National League in runs may have forced Pastornicky to keep up with the likes of a red hot Michael Bourn and a productive Dan Uggla, but the hiring of Greg Walker as hitting coach, who has helped the Braves increase their on-base percentage 15 points from last year, may also speak volumes.

Regardless, the kid is helping the team win, at least for now. If he keeps working, the Braves could have a stable shortstop capable of some production.

Of course, it is not hard to follow Alex Gonzalez's .270 OBP.

Tags: Atlanta, Atlanta Braves, MLB, Tyler Pastornicky

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