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Fredi plans on continuing "soft platoon" at third

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ATLANTA -- As the Braves were completing a three-game series in Detroit in late April, manager Fredi Gonzalez indicated Chris Johnson would start getting a majority of the playing time at third base.

But since Johnson played third base in consecutive games against the Nationals later that week, Gonzalez has gone back to platooning the right-handed hitting Johnson and left-handed hitting Juan Francisco at third base.

Including Wednesday's matchup against the Blue Jays, Francisco has started at third base in 15 of the 26 games the Braves have played in May.

Gonzalez said he will continue utilizing a "soft platoon" that will at least allow Johnson a chance to occasionally start against right-handed pitchers. One such occasion will come on Thursday when he is expected to be in the lineup against Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.

After hitting .316 (18-for-57) with four home runs and 18 strikeouts in his first 16 games this year, Francisco entered Wednesday having hit .167 (8-for-48) with two extra-base hits and 24 strikeouts in his past 18 games.

Johnson's batting average dropped from .369 to .307 when he went hitless in his first 17 at-bats in May. But he has brought his average back to .346 while hitting .483 (14-for-29) with three doubles and a homer in his past 10 games.

Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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