Dansby Swanson’s erratic first full season in the majors reached a new stage Monday when manager Brian Snitker said the high-profile rookie shortstop would not be in the everyday lineup for now and wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Swanson could be sent back to the minors.
Swanson, batting .220 with a .297 on-base percentage in 88 games, was out of the lineup for the fourth time in the past nine games Monday, when the team opened a three-game series with the Cubs.
When asked if he thought Swanson could play enough to warrant staying in the majors rather than being sent back to Triple-A to play every day, Snitker replied, “For right now, I think he’s OK,” adding, “If you go down, it’s not the end of the world. Some guys fight through it here.”
The Braves activated versatile veterans Sean Rodriguez and Danny Santana from the disabled list Monday, adding more options to an already crowded infield, though Santana is primarily an outfielder. Rodriguez started at third base Monday and hot-hitting Johan Camargo, the versatile rookie whose stock has risen sharply this season, got his fourth start in nine games at shortstop. That marked his 22nd start in the past 26 games at either shortstop, third base or second base.
“Dansby is a young kid who has a lot of career ahead of him,” Snitker said. “We’ve got to pick and choose spots and see matchups and who is the best team we can put out there on a given day and see what happens.”
With Rodriguez active for the first time after missing more than half the season recovering from shoulder surgery, the Braves have options and Snitker plans to play the lineup that he thinks gives the team its best chance to win. With those options, they also have their sights set on a potential postseason berth.
The Braves swept the Diamondbacks in the first three games after the All-Star break to get their record to .500 (including 18-10 since June 12) and were tied with Houston for best record in the majors over that span before Monday. If Snitker and the Braves were ever content to keep running a slumping rookie out there every day for the sake of his long-term development rather than the team’s immediate success, they aren’t now.
Swanson was 5-for-40 (.125) in his past 14 games before Monday with three doubles, three RBIs, six walks, 16 strikeouts, a .125 OBP and .200 slugging percentage. He had three doubles and three RBIs in a two-game stretch June 30-July 1 at Oakland. In nine games since then, he was 2-for-25 with nine strikeouts and no RBIs.
He has been particularly vulnerable to the slider all season, with pitchers who utilize that pitch putting Swanson away after getting ahead in count.
“Pitching coaches in the league, they get video on you,” Snitker said. “You have to adjust and adapt.”
Swanson’s season has been basically comprised of two long rough stretches separated by one month of good hitting.
The Marietta native and former No. 1 overall draft pick hit .169 with a .250 OBP, .479 OPS and nine RBIs in his first 32 games through May 13. Then he heated up and started hitting like he did a year ago, batting .286 with a .364 OBP, .849 OPS and 20 RBIs in a 31-game stretch from May 14 through June 13.
But just as quickly as he warmed at the plate, he cooled off, batting .207 with a .278 OBP, .522 OPS and six RBIs in his past 25 games before Monday.