Conrad looks to spark Braves in return

Conrad looks to spark Braves in return

MIAMI -- Many fans were disappointed when the Braves opted to send Brooks Conrad back to the Minors after he'd proven to be a two-week spark in July. But the hard-nosed infielder has returned to the Majors in time to help Atlanta make its push toward the postseason.

"The opportunity I had earlier in the year was awesome and I just kept my fingers crossed that I'd get another opportunity and here it is and it's just as exciting as it was before," Conrad said shortly after arriving at Land Shark Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.

After helping Triple-A Gwinnett move closer to the International League playoffs with a win on Monday night, Conrad, right-handed pitcher Luis Valdez and catcher Clint Sammons learned that they'd been summoned to the Majors to serve as the September additions the Braves could start utilizing on Tuesday, when all big league teams had the opportunity to expand their 25-man rosters.

While Valdez will provide bullpen depth and Sammons will serve as a valuable third catcher, Conrad seemingly has the best opportunity to make an impact down the stretch. During his 14 games in the Majors earlier this season, the 29-year-old second baseman hit .344 with two homers and eight RBIs.

"I'm excited that I was able to get in there and do well," Conrad said. "That was a great feeling. Hopefully it will continue when I start getting in there a little bit more."

Conrad was promoted to Atlanta on July 3, after Kelly Johnson was placed on the disabled list. While playing against the Nationals at Nationals Park later that evening, he became the first Brave since Chuck Tanner in 1955 to deliver a pinch-hit homer in his first big league at-bat with the organization. Injuries that plagued Chipper Jones and Casey Kotchman pulled Martin Prado away from his second base duties and allowed Conrad the chance to start each of the final six games the Braves played before the All-Star break.

With Omar Infante having ended his three-month stint on the disabled list a couple of weeks ago, there might not be as many opportunities for Conrad to see regular action. But Infante has been pulled away from his backup infield duties to man the injury-plagued center field position.

"You can put [Conrad] just about anywhere and he'll do a nice job for you," Cox said.

When Johnson was activated from the disabled list on July 23, there was some reason to wonder if the Braves would cut ties with Greg Norton and opt to keep Conrad around to strengthen their bench.

But to provide him the opportunity to continue receiving regular playing time they sent him back to Gwinnett, where he hit .269 with 12 homers in 110 games this year.

"It's just the nature of the game and how things work," Conrad said. "I didn't have a problem with it at all. Just to get the opportunity to come back at any point of the year was awesome for me."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.