MIAMI -- When the Braves promoted Jose Constanza to make his Major League debut July 29, they did not know how long he would stick around. But as he has continued to provide value with his bat and legs, the 27-year-old rookie has earned more playing time than Jason Heyward.
Heyward homered during Sunday's win over the Mets and has shown glimpses of encouragement against right-handed pitchers. But with the Braves facing Marlins left-hander Brad Hand Monday night, the 21-year-old right fielder was out of the lineup for the fourth time in the past seven games. Atlanta has faced left-handed starters in three of those games.
Heyward was struggling when he went on the disabled list in May with a sore right shoulder and since being activated, he has hit .120 (6-for-50) against left-handed pitchers. He has batted .200 (12-for-60) since the All-Star break.
Constanza entered Monday batting .500 (13-for-26) in his previous seven games, with five hits in nine at-bats against left-handed pitchers.
"Jason has been having better at-bats," manage Fredi Gonzalez said. "I hope it gets to a point where everybody gets hot."
With the likelihood Chipper Jones will need some regular rest down the stretch, Martin Prado will spend some time at third base and open opportunities for Constanza and Heyward to be in the lineup at the same time.