Hinske a valuable asset on Braves' bench

Hinske a valuable asset on Braves' bench

Hinske a valuable asset on Braves' bench
DENVER -- As Eric Hinske prepared for Saturday's game against the Rockies, he playfully said there should be fantasy leagues that focus only on bench players. If there were and a draft was held today, Hinske might be the top selection.

Hinske notched his second four-hit performance within a span of five days during Friday night's win over the Rockies. The 34-year-old reserve had not previously notched this career-high total since 2004. He entered Saturday with 10 hits in his previous 15 at-bats.

His most valuable hit during this stretch was Friday night's decisive 11th-inning home run.

"My main focus is that when I do start, I do something to help the team win that day," Hinske said. "I'm just trying to have great at-bats, play defense and play the game the right way."

Hinske has taken advantage of the increased playing time he received as Jason Heyward dealt with some soreness around his right oblique muscle during the early days of this month. After starting just two of the first 22 games the Braves played this year, he made his third start within a five-day span on Friday night. The 15 at-bats he compiled during this span were four fewer than he had totaled in those first 22 games.

"When you get a couple starts here and there, it helps you when you're pinch-hitting," Hinske said. "That's what I like most."

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he thought about starting Hinske on Saturday night, despite the fact the Rockies were starting left-handed pitcher Jamie Moyer. But he opted instead to stick with Matt Diaz, who has found success against left-handed pitchers throughout his career.