La Stella shows his range in home debut

La Stella shows his range in home debut

ATLANTA -- After weeks spent hoping to see Tommy La Stella, Braves fans received their wish when Atlanta purchased the second baseman's contract from Triple-A Gwinnett last Wednesday.

Fresh off a stellar first week in the Majors, La Stella made his Turner Field debut on Tuesday night in a 7-5 loss to the Mariners, as Braves fans caught their first glimpse of the man they hope will reverse Atlanta's offensive fortunes at second base.

"I'm excited," La Stella said before the game. "Obviously, this is something I've been looking forward to for a long time."

La Stella's obvious impact has come with his bat, as he finished 2-for-4 on Tuesday night for his fourth multi-hit performance in six games. He is batting .421 (8-for-19) with a .476 on-base percentage since making his Major League debut on May 28.

But La Stella made major strides defensively on Tuesday night, after his first week in the Majors included a costly eighth-inning error in a loss to the Red Sox on May 29, and three straight early exits against the Marlins for better defensive alternatives.

La Stella showed good range against the Mariners by snagging a couple of tough grounders from Kyle Seager and Dustin Ackley in the top of the fifth before making a diving grab to his left to rob Ackley again, denying the Mariners' left fielder a two-out single in the ninth.

"Anytime the scouting report says 'lacking defensively,' obviously, you want to be able to kind of put that to rest and play good defense," La Stella said.

La Stella described his loud first week in the big leagues as "a whirlwind," as he tried to get acclimated to his new environment. Not until Monday's off-day did he get a chance to sit back and think about his early success.

"It's nice to reflect on after the fact. But to be honest, when you're going through it, all you're worried about is playing well and winning games," La Stella said. "After the games, you kind of reflect a little bit, but while you're in it, it's tough to really focus on it.

Tuesday night's game reflected yet another new experience for La Stella, who has plenty of firsts remaining in the Major Leagues. But do not expect him to raise his eyebrows and furrow his forehead at anything he sees from here on out.

"Not so much," La Stella said when asked if he has encountered any surprises during the past week. "Pretty much what I expected."

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