Prado deserves more recognition

BY foxsports • June 21, 2012

Martin Prado's versatility got a workout while both third baseman Chipper Jones (sore left knee) and first baseman Freddie Freeman (swollen left index finger) were out with their injuries.

Prado is Jones' primary backup, but he replaced Freeman at first base twice versus the Orioles last weekend and in the first game of the weekday series against the Yankees. To no one's surprise, he's been sparkling on defense while maintaining his hot hitting.

Switching positions from one game to the next, or even games, isn't fazing him so long as he's still hitting second in the batting order. That wasn't the case last season, when he fretted so much about learning to play left field and was moved from there to third and back so often that his offense suffered. And then, of course, he missed a month with a staph infection in his right calf.

Healthy this year, Prado seems to have embraced the idea of being able to play everywhere but catcher and pitcher. He should be the Braves' starting third baseman next season, with Jones' retirement. But that's probably not what he's thinking. For example, when he was praised in the clubhouse for his play at first base, he replied, "You must have been watching the wrong game."

Given his modesty, he's probably thinking he has to make himself versatile to stay in the majors. That's the way he got in the lineup to begin with, temporarily taking over at first base when the Braves traded Mark Teixeira in 2008 after backing up at second and third and short.

Not until 2010, after the Braves had traded second baseman Kelly Johnson, did Prado land a starting position, and he was an All-Star that season, getting the start in the All-Star Game because Chase Utley was injured. And then he lost his position because general manager Frank Wren wanted second baseman Dan Uggla's power bat.

Prado is appreciated by opposing players and managers but remains unknown to fans, which is why he's almost nowhere to be seen in this year's All-Star balloting. He might have his best shot to make the team if National League manager Tony La Russa follows the lead of Charlie Manuel in 2010 and chooses a super-utility player. Manuel picked Prado's best friend, Omar Infante, now with the Marlins.


NOTES, QUOTES

--1B Freddy Freeman snapped an 0-for-10 slide with a three-run homer in the first inning of Atlanta's 10-5 win over the Braves. It was the first homer for Freeman since May 30 vs. St. Louis. Freeman returned to action on Tuesday after missing five games with a swollen left index finger.

--OF Jason Heyward hit two homers in a five-homer outburst for Atlanta. The Georgia native had an impressive stint at Yankee Stadium, finishing the three-game set hitting .444 (5-for-11) with two homers, a triple and four RBI.

--RHP Chad Durbin's 19-game scoreless streak was snapped when he allowed an RBI single to Yankees CF Curtis Granderson on Wednesday. Durban had last allowed a run on May 11 at St. Louis.

--3B Chipper Jones was given the day off on a day the temperatures in New York surged into the 90s. That did not stop the Yankees from honoring Jones before the game. Former teammate Andruw Jones and Yankees captain Derek Jeter presented the retiring Brave slugger with third base from Tuesday night's contest enclosed in a glass case.

--RHP Brandon Beachy's diagnosis of a partial tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow was confirmed by Dr. James Andrews on Wednesday. The righty will undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday. Beachy led the league with a 2.00 ERA before the injury.


QUOTE TO NOTE

"That was really cool. You saw a 40-year-old kid just in awe of the history that I was witnessing, whether it was holding Mickey Mantle's bat or holding Babe Ruth's bat, or seeing baseball cards from the olden days." -- 3B Chipper Jones after his special tour of the museum at Yankee Stadium before Wednesday afternoon's game.


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