WASHINGTON -- Tyler Pastornicky might not have the range to be an everyday shortstop at the Major League level. But the Braves believe his offensive skills and potential versatility could provide him a chance to be successful in the big leagues.
Once the Braves determined on Wednesday that it was time to bring Andrelton Simmons to Atlanta to be their starting shortstop, Pastornicky learned that he had been optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez said the plan is for Pastornicky to prepare for a utility role by playing second base and some of the outfield positions over the next couple of months.
"I think he's a big part of this organization," Gonzalez said. "It's not like we're going to discard him. We like what we saw from him offensively. We compare him to like Omar Infante.
"We might not have seen the Tyler Pastornicky offensively that everybody talks about. Now you can free him up a little bit to play second base or shortstop. He can play shortstop in one or two games. We're going to try to let him play the outfield a little bit this summer, let him move around."
Pastornicky had no reason to be ashamed of what he accomplished at the plate during the first two months of his Major League career. He was hitting .276 with a .308 on-base percentage as recently as May 21. But while recording just two hits in his last 22 at-bats, he saw those numbers drop to .248 and .281.
"It's always tough whenever one of your teammates gets sent down or traded or anything like that, especially a kid like Pastornicky, who can hit in the big leagues," Braves second baseman Dan Uggla said. "This is a small bump in the road for him. ... It's a big hit to your ego. You've got to swallow your pride, go down and do what you've got to do to get back to the big leagues. But he's not the kind of kid who is a punk. He's not going to take any [garbage] from anybody. Once he gets smacked in the mouth like this, he's going to smack back."