ATLANTA -- Paul Janish does not possess the offensive capabilities Ramiro Pena provided before he was forced to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery earlier this week. But the Braves are more than comfortable with the defensive contributions Janish could provide now that he has filled Pena's role as a versatile utility infielder.
Each of the three appearances Janish has made since being recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett last week have called for him to serve as a defensive late-inning replacement for third baseman Chris Johnson. But he also now stands as the only legitimate backup option for starting shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
Janish showed his tremendous defensive skills at shortstop as he filled in for an injured Simmons for most of the second half of the 2012 season. While he has not spent much time at third base, Janish seemed quite capable of handling the position when he lunged to his right to knock down Aaron Hill's sharp grounder before throwing to first base to record the first out in Friday night's 3-0 win over the D-backs.
"[Janish] might be the all-time best defender I've ever been around at multiple positions," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We saw it long term last year at shortstop. We asked him when we brought him up if he could play third base, and he said, 'Yeah I'll go over there.' He's played a little bit of it. But he's terrific."
Janish could soon make a spot start to provide Simmons a chance to rest. But it appears most of Janish's playing time will come as a late-inning substitution for Johnson, who has provided consistency at the plate and concerns with his defensive ability at third base.
"It's a luxury to have that kind of guy who understands his role, which he does, and Chris is good about it too," Gonzalez said. "Janish, you're comfortable with him and he knows the game. It really works out well."
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.