ATLANTA -- Hoping to energize Michael Bourn for the final weeks of this season, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez opted to give his struggling leadoff hitter a chance to rest during the series opener of this weekend's three-game series against the Nationals.
With the Nationals starting left-hander Ross Detwiler on Friday night, Gonzalez opted to keep both Bourn and Brian McCann out of the lineup. Both have struggled against Detwiler. But the veteran skipper said his decision was based on the desire to give both a second day to rest coming off Thursday's scheduled off-day.
"It really wasn't even two days, we got in [from Milwaukee] at four in the morning [on Thursday]," Gonzalez said. "So it was really just a day and a half."
Bourn has certainly provided some indication that he could benefit from a chance to rest. The All-Star outfielder has entered Friday batting .169 with a .286 on-base percentage in his past 16 games dating back to Aug. 26. He went 0-for-12 with four strikeouts and no walks as the Braves were swept by the Brewers this week.
With the presence of Reed Johnson, the Braves have the luxury to provide Bourn the rest that he did not get during the season's first four months. This marked the fourth time Bourn has been out of the lineup since Johnson was acquired from the Cubs on July 30. He was out of the lineup for just one of the 103 games the Braves played through the end of July.
"Everybody goes through those [slumps]," Gonzalez said. "Hopefully now we can get him going in the right spot."
When Bourn hit .311 with a .366 on-base percentage before the All-Star break, the Braves were averaging 4.6 runs per game. As he has batted .224 with a .318 on-base percentage since the break, they have averaged 4.1 runs.
Bourn's influence has been even more telling over the past month. As he has hit .186 with a .317 on-base dating back to Aug. 18, the Braves have gone 11-14 and averaged 3.1 runs per game.
Entering Friday, Bourn had one hit in 13 at-bats against Detwiler. McCann was 2-for-12 against the Nationals' left-handed pitcher.