Mark Bradley

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

His name is Rio, and he's not in tonight's lineup. But just wait


Adonis Garcia is off the disabled list and done with rehab and penciled into the starting lineup for tonight's game in Cincinnati. The Atlanta Braves will be facing Bronson Arroyo, who was technically once a Brave, though he never threw a pitch. This is clearly not the beginning of the oft-posited third-base platoon: Garcia hits right-handed; Arroyo throws that way.

That said, those in the audience hoping for larger doses of Rio Ruiz shouldn't be dismayed. The Braves aren't apt to let the 23-year-old sit on a big-league bench; if he's not playing in the majors, they'd rather him play every day in Gwinnett. That Ruiz remains on the 25-man roster -- Jace Peterson was sent down and fan favorite Emilio Bonifacio designated for assignment -- is a sign that the Braves have plans for him here.

Ruiz has been so-so since his call-up -- more strikeouts (15) than hits (11), more errors (two) than home runs (one). He has been in Class AAA since the beginning of last season; he has made 684 plate appearances for Gwinnett, hitting .269 with an OPS of .751. He has been a pro since 2012. If he's going to negotiate the transition from mid-tier prospect to big-leaguer, it's nearing that time.

The Braves have never viewed Garcia, who's 32, as more than a stopgap. If not for a strong second half -- he hit .293 with an OPS of .789 after the All-Star break -- he might have been released after last season. That every Brave hit over the final two months of 2016 made keeping him for one more year more palatable: He was no longer one of six holes in the batting order.

Neither was he ever seen as a keeper. I'm guessing the Braves view the best-case scenario as letting Garcia get a few at-bats and hoping he does enough to catch some other team's eye. There's a chance he and Ruiz could make for a righty/lefty platoon, though I'm not sure that's the optimum. Garcia has proved he's a journeyman. The Braves hope Ruiz can be an everyday third baseman. He needs the chance to show what he can -- or can't -- do.


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About the Author

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been with the AJC since 1984.