LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- While enjoying an unexpected one-week stint in the Majors last season, infield prospect Philip Gosselin recorded his first two career hits against Washington. He might have notched a few more if the Nationals had been as accommodating as they were during the eighth inning of the Braves' 8-4 win on Tuesday afternoon at Champion Stadium.
With the bases loaded, one out and sinkerballer Luis Ayala on the mound attempting to keep the score tied, Nationals manager Matt Williams opted to bring in right fielder Steven Souza to serve as an extra infielder.
Gosselin took advantage of the configuration by sending an elevated 2-2 sinker to an abandoned right field for a bases-clearing, game-winning triple.
"I wish they would take a defender off all the time," Gosselin said with a smile. "I was a little surprised when they did it, but their catcher said it was something they've been working on."
Given a chance to experiment in a setting where wins and losses do not matter, Williams confirmed he just wanted to test the defensive configuration, which left the two remaining outfielders manning the gaps. When Souza reached the infield dirt, he quickly switched gloves with first baseman Brock Peterson, who shifted toward second base.
"I've seen [that shift] a lot in the ninth inning," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I've never seen it in the eighth inning. But maybe Matt is working on that with his club. You don't know. You just worry about your team."
Gosselin is among the position players vying for one of the last available spots on Atlanta's roster. The 25-year-old infielder combined to hit .254 with a .617 OPS for Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett last season. His brief stint in Atlanta came after Tyler Pastornicky tore his left anterior cruciate ligament just two days after Dan Uggla was placed on the disabled list.
"I'm really just trying to improve and hopefully be able to contribute again this year at some point," Gosselin said. "It's great to just be able to play in front of the coaching staff and work with them every day. I'm not so much worried about making the team or anything like that, just trying to improve."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less