Tyler Pastornicky Wins Braves Shortstop Job

Andrelton Simmons was a dark-horse candidate to open 2012 as the Braves' starting shortstop. He won't, though, because Tyler Pastornicky will.

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Tyler Pastornicky Beats Out Andrelton Simmons, Will Start For Braves

Over the offseason, the Atlanta Braves signed Jack Wilson. Jack Wilson was going to serve as the Braves' backup shortstop, behind Tyler Pastornicky. That much was inarguable.

And that happened before spring training. In spring training, it all became much more arguable. If there's one thing we know about old-school baseball managers, it's that they're old-school. If there's a second thing we know about old-school baseball managers, it's that they're baseball managers. And if there's a third thing we know about old-school baseball managers, it's that they love young, defensive-minded shortstops who can't really hit.

The Braves had one of those guys in camp, by the name of Andrelton Simmons. And for a short time, Simmons was getting a lot of attention. Pastornicky was off to a rough start, and Simmons' defense was drawing raves. It looked like Simmons was a legitimate challenger for the opening-day shortstop job.

Alas, that job's going to Pastornicky. There have been some ups and downs, but we're where we figured we would be.

Pastornicky has not had a very good camp. He has 15 hits in 68 at-bats, without a home run. That's all good for a .520 OPS. Pastornicky left the door open, but Simmons couldn't take advantage, batting 8-for-43 with a .503 OPS. These are just spring-training numbers, sure, but Simmons didn't out-perform Pastornicky at the plate, which he needed to do to win. Defense wasn't going to get Simmons the job on its own. He could've really used an empty .300.

So Pastornicky will start, and he'll continue to start until or unless he demonstrates that he can't. And Simmons will return to the minors, where he has yet to play a single game above advanced-A. Simmons has the look of a potential fast-riser, but there's rising fast, and there's advancing from the Carolina League to the majors.

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Position Battle: Atlanta Braves, Shortstop

It was assumed that the Atlanta Braves would begin 2012 with Tyler Pastornicky at shortstop. A prospect, however, is giving him some stiff competition in camp.

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