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Pastornicky eager to establish skills at second

Pastornicky eager to establish skills at second

ATLANTA -- After logging 76 games and nearly 200 plate appearances while starting and ending the 2012 season with the Braves, Tyler Pastornicky came away from his first Major League season knowing he could hit at the highest level of the game. On Thursday, he got another chance to test his progress at his new position in the field, starting at second base for the second time this season.

After entering the big leagues as a shortstop, Pastornicky spent the opening months of the 2013 season adjusting to second base with Triple-A Gwinnett. He had played 52 games at second this year for Gwinnett before being called up on Tuesday, when Evan Gattis was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right oblique strain.

"It's definitely different [from last year], with a position change and obviously being in Triple-A," Pastornicky said. "Other than that, I'm just continuing to work and trying to get better, trying to come up here and get established."

Before Thursday's game, Pastornicky pointed out that switching positions as a middle infielder comes with its positives and negatives: While the shorter throw to first base can provide the luxury of time for a former shortstop, Pastornicky has been drilling the all-important double-play turn with Andrelton Simmons to get more comfortable with his new role in that tandem.

"In Spring Training, I think we did it pretty much every day, and every time I've been up here, I come out here and turn them early," Pastornicky said. "Him being a great shortstop makes it about as easy as it can be on you."

Pastronicky also saw his name at the top of the batting order for just the second time in his Major League career on Thursday. The last time he hit leadoff for the big club was May 16, 2012, against the Marlins, and he has occupied the No. 3 spot in the order of late for Gwinnett.

"He gives you some athleticism," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He gives you a guy that can run. He doesn't have [Jordan] Schafer's speed, but he's a little threat, and he can put the ball in play. He's here, he came up, and I'm a big believer in why sit around? Put him in there and get a chance to play with him."

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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