Defensive-minded Wilson chipping in for Braves

Defensive-minded Wilson chipping in for Braves

Defensive-minded Wilson chipping in for Braves
ATLANTA -- Defensive specialists don't get many opportunities to contribute offensively.

That's why veteran shortstop Jack Wilson, who has filled that role for the Braves this season, was so excited about being able to do so Tuesday night in a 6-2 win over Cincinnati.

Wilson led off the third inning with a single to left. While he didn't get to spend a lot of time on the bases -- he was forced out by the next batter, pitcher Tim Hudson, whose attempted sacrifice turned into a 1-6 fielder's choice -- but the hit set the tone for the four-run, five-hit outburst that broke open the game.

"Obviously, this season hasn't gone that well offensively for me, but defensively I've been able to go in there and help the team win," Wilson said. "It's nice to get up there and get a hit to spark the rally and just come up with the win. Get some at-bats, start feeling a little bit better."

The hit led manager Fredi Gonzalez to remind the media that Wilson has a 200-hit season on his resumé (2004, when he had 201 with the Pirates).

"Jack is a defensive specialist, but if you look at the back of his baseball card, he's a guy that had 200 hits one year," said Gonzalez. "He's not an automatic out. You have to respect him.

"The last few years, being injured a little bit in Seattle and not really getting any playing time, he's behind a little bit offensively. But I feel confident he can do what we ask of him in the eight hole -- hit and run, bunt, get some big knocks. It's a nice piece to have."

No one has to tell Tyler Pastornicky about Wilson's legacy and professionalism.

"Jack's done it for a lot of years, so it's not surprising," said the Braves' starting shortstop. "But it's always fun when I get a night off like that to get to see him go out there and play well and help out the team."

"I kind of watch his work ethic on his routine before games and how he gets ready for games. That's really helped me a lot, just watching how he goes about getting his ground balls, getting in position. It's stuff like that. I just pick up little things and I try things out, and what's for me, I do, and if it's not something I can do, I just kind of move on."

Wilson has taken it upon himself to be the ultimate professional, taking Pastornicky under his wing as was done for him.

"I met him last year that last day of the season. It was more just shortstop-to-shortstop type of stuff," Wilson recalled. "Then I ended up signing back and spent some time with him in the offseason. I had Pat Mears and Kevin Young, guys who kind of took me under their wing when I was a rookie. So it's kind of like passing the torch a little bit, being able to do that with Tyler. So it's been fun and he's been doing great."