If Acuna dropped down, Inciarte or Albies could lead off
“I’m going to wait and see where we’re at in a couple of weeks. I don’t think we have to set a lineup right now, and it could change,” manager Brian Snitker said. “I have different ideas but I don’t think right now or even a week from now we have to have anything set.”
Acuna hit .328 in 66 games as a leadoff hitter last season, when he batted .293 overall with 26 home runs in 111 games and was voted NL Rookie of the Year. Atlanta went 90-72 and won its first division title in five years.
“If it was up to me personally, I would like to stay in the leadoff spot, simply because I like hitting there,” he said Thursday as the Braves held their first full-squad workout.
His power numbers could merit a spot closer to the middle of the batting order, which will get a makeover following the signing of former AL MVP Josh Donaldson.
Freddie Freeman hit third last year and Nick Markakis cleanup. Donaldson said he was attracted to the “chance to be able to hit in front of Freddie and guys like that, and to have some speed in front of me to be able to drive some guys in.”
“They really kind of came out of nowhere last year. Nobody was really expecting it,” said Donaldson, who signed a $23 million, one-year deal. “You started seeing some of these guys contributing and doing their thing. It was cool to see.”
Enciate hit .223 in 54 games as the leadoff hitter and .326 in 23 games in the No. 2 hole. Albies batted .234 in 40 games atop the order and .287 in 82 games hitting second.
Atlanta is searching for a fifth starter to join a rotation that includes Mike Foltynewicz, Julio Teheran, Sean Newcomb and Kevin Gausman. The Braves also will use spring training to evaluate shortstop Dansby Swanson and closer Arodys Vizcaino.
Swanson had offseason wrist surgery after playing in 136 games last season.
Vizcaino and Mike Soroka, a 21-year-old candidate for the fifth rotation spot, had sore shoulders in 2018. None of them will play in the early spring training games; Snitker said they are all on schedule to be ready for the regular season.
Swanson’s training routine has included everything except taking batting practice against pitchers. No limitations have been placed on Vizcaino, who saved a game in the postseason but pitched only 38 1/3 innings during the regular season.
“I don’t know exactly when we have him scheduled to pitch, but there’s no reason to push him right now,” Snitker said. “He’s feeling good, his bullpens have been good so there’s really no reason to rush or to push him at this point.”