ATLANTA -- When the Braves called up shortstop Andrelton Simmons at the start of June, utility infielder Jack Wilson knew his playing time was going to be cut. But he didn't realize his next start wouldn't come until June 29, nearly a full month since his last start, on May 30.
Wilson was starting at second base in the Braves' series opener against the Nationals, allowing manager Fredi Gonzalez to give Dan Uggla a mental break as he struggles through a prolonged slump.
"You don't want to give [Wilson] a start because Uggla's not doing well, you want to give him a start to give him a start," Gonzalez said. "So you kill two birds. Give Danny a little mental breather, and get Jack in there."
Before Simmons was called up from Double-A Mississippi, Wilson was often used as a defensive replacement for Tyler Pastornicky, along with starting every time right-hander Tim Hudson pitched. But Simmons' outstanding defense has eliminated the need for a defensive replacement and a personal shortstop for Hudson, a sinkerball pitcher.
Wilson said he has tried to learn from other members of the Braves' bench as he adjusts to his new role as a bench player.
"[I've] learned a lot from [Eric Hinske] and [David] Ross, and Matt Diaz as well," Wilson said. "I'm still learning it, but at the same time, all you do is you come and you keep preparing every day, just in case your name is called."
Wilson has not made a start at second base since being traded to Atlanta by the Mariners on Aug. 31, 2011. He has made 38 starts there in his career, and played the final two innings at second on June 10.
Wilson joked he will rely on Simmons to make sure he's in the right spot defensively Friday night.
"It's one of those things you just go out and try to stick with the basics, don't try to do too much," Wilson said. "[I'm] just going to go out there and let Simmons tell me where to play, because it's like his 22nd day in the big leagues. So if he sees me anywhere, 'Hey, Jack go ahead and move over.'"