McLouth activated off DL, starts in left field

McLouth activated off DL, starts in left field

McLouth activated off DL, starts in left field
ATLANTA -- Braves outfielder Nate McLouth was back in the lineup Sunday against the Rangers for the first time since going on the disabled list May 23 with a left oblique strain.

McLouth had been on rehab assignment for Triple-A Gwinnett over the last three days, going 3-for-6 with two walks, a hit by pitch, two runs and a RBI single.

"They felt good," McLouth said of his at-bats. "I was kind of glad [Saturday] night to get to face a lefty. We had just faced all righties the first couple of games. It was nice to face a lefty, although I did get drilled."

McLouth, who said he had no problems running the bases or playing defense, had been preparing for the move back to the Braves by playing left field for Gwinnett. With the emergence of Jordan Schafer in center field and everyday left fielder Martin Prado on the DL, McLouth's temporary move to left was necessary.

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McLouth had spoken with Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez a few days earlier about the move and was fine with the decision.

"Schafer, in my mind, is maybe the best defensive center fielder in the National League," McLouth said. "I know that I can play center field in the big leagues, but I also recognize that he's an elite center fielder defensive-wise. I got no problem moving to left.

"I was glad to play a couple games there [in Triple-A] and kind of reacquaint myself with it. It's not a ton different, but it's a little bit different. Luckily, I've played it a couple of years in the past, but it has been a couple years."

To make room on the roster, Joe Mather was designated for assignment. Mather, who was claimed off waivers by the Cardinals before the season, was hitting .094 (3-for-32) in June.

"That was a difficult decision. Like I told him, 'This is not a 15-minute or 15-second decision,'" Gonzalez said. "He brings some flexibility, he can play defense, he can play all kinds of positions. But he's been struggling swinging the bat. We just made the decision to give [Wilkin] Ramirez the opportunity to do that job."

Despite Mather's offensive struggles, Gonzalez said he would like to see Mather remain in the organization.

"I hope he clears waivers and we can keep him," he said.

McLouth, meanwhile, will try to improve on his own offensive struggles. He's got just one hit in his last 19 at-bats with Atlanta and hit .221 in May.

But he's not the only one. The Braves have been held to three runs or less in four of their last six games entering Sunday and have lost all four of those games.

"Things haven't been going great offensively, but sometimes throughout the course of the season, that happens. You kind of weather the storm," McLouth said. "We're fortune to have a good pitching staff and we're still in the middle of thing right now. Just wait for those bats to come around."