Swanson looks to produce runs for Braves against Nationals (Jul 08, 2017)

BY AP • July 8, 2017

WASHINGTON -- It has been just over two years since Dansby Swanson was the first player selected overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2015.

He was then traded to Atlanta in December of that year and is now the regular shortstop for the Braves, who will face Washington right-hander Stephen Strasburg (9-2, 3.28 ERA) on Saturday in the third game of the four-game set.

Swanson played in 105 games in the minors last year before making his debut in 38 games with Atlanta in 2016. Swanson is 2-for-7 (.286) against Strasburg with two RBIs and four strikeouts.

"I think he is holding his own fine," Atlanta manager Brian Snitker said Friday. "He is going through normal (stages of) learning the league; first full year in the major leagues. He has made some big hits for us. He is going through the learning curve and doing fine, I think."

The Georgia native has six homers and 35 RBIs, which is more than teammates such as Brandon Phillips (30) and Freddie Freeman (30) and nearly as many as Matt Kemp (39). Freeman missed more than a month with a wrist injury.

Swanson was 0-for-4 on Friday against the Nationals as he hit No. 8 in the order. That can be a difficult position for a young player, batting in front of the pitcher in the National League.

"He has handled that pretty well, too," Snitker said. "Guys (on the mound) go after you no matter where you are in the order, depending on how they see you and scouting reports."

Swanson hit .302 with three homers and 17 RBIs in 129 at-bats last year with Atlanta.

Washington center fielder Michael A. Taylor, who became a starter in late April, hit No. 8 most of the year before he was moved up to the top of the order after an injury to shortstop Trea Turner on June 29.

Taylor went on the disabled list Friday and outfielder Chris Heisey rejoined the club after he had been on the disabled list. Heisey was a late defensive replacement Friday as the first-place Nationals (51-35) scored three runs in the ninth and one in the 10th for a 5-4 win.

"I guess that's what a team is," Heisey said Friday. "A long season, every team's going to have some injuries. Maybe more than you hope for. And hopefully guys can fill in like they've been doing, and you just weather the storm until the guys that are paid to play every day come back."

The Nationals (51-35) are 9 1/2 games ahead of the Braves (41-44) after Friday.

Strasburg, who will try to keep the momentum going, is 10-8 with a 3.95 ERA in 26 career starts against the Braves. Freeman is 14-for-38 (.368) against Strasburg with four homers.

The Nationals will have to deal with a familiar foe -- right-hander Julio Teheran (6-6, 5.14).

The veteran from Colombia is 4-4 with a 4.42 ERA in 16 starts in his career against the Nationals. This year he is 1-1 with a 7.36 ERA in two starts against Washington.

Teheran, 26, has allowed 14 homers in 214 at-bats to current members of the Nationals.

Right fielder Bryce Harper has hit seven of those, compiling an average of .444 in 36 at-bats with 17 RBIs against the National League East foes.

Washington hopes its organizational depth can fill in with Taylor out.

"The thing about it is, we certainly don't want to rush it, so it can linger," manager Dusty Baker said of Taylor. "That's the one thing you don't want, for this to reoccur or linger throughout the year. You hope when it's well, it's well."

Washington pitcher Max Scherzer had 10 strikeouts Friday and could start the All-Star game Tuesday for the National League.

"Look I've had a great first half, I'm going out there and accomplishing new things, I'm throwing the ball well but I also know the rest of the league is making adjustments against me," he said Friday.

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