7/3/2013 7:22 P.M. ET
Johnson continues to rake, but from eighth spot
By Eric Single and Mark Bowman / MLB.com
ATLANTA -- With more than half the season complete, Chris Johnson leads the Braves in batting average and ranks second in on-base percentage. But his continued success has not persuaded manager Fredi Gonzalez to move him out of the eighth spot of his lineup.
"It's been good to have him there," Gonzalez said. "I've been tempted to move him up a couple times. But it seems like that hole comes up with people on base all the time, or at the very least you get the other manager thinking about whether you walk him."
Johnson has hit .330 with a .377 on-base percentage through his first 66 games this season. He has made at least one start in each of the bottom eight spots of the lineup. But he has been most productive in the eighth spot.
While batting eighth in 19 of his 59 starts, Johnson has hit .375 (24-for-64) with a 1.038 OPS. He has accounted for four of his six home runs and 11 of his 25 RBIs while positioned in this spot.
The seventh spot has been the second-most frequent spot Johnson has inhabited. In the 16 games he has filled that role, Johnson has hit .352 (19-for-59) with one home run and three RBIs.
"I really like [Johnson] there," Gonzalez said of the eight hole. "I think it's a position that sometimes gets neglected a little bit. He's a guy who has been able to produce some runs out of that spot."
Beachy pleased with more thorough 'pen session
ATLANTA -- After throwing two side sessions over the weekend, Brandon Beachy threw a more extended bullpen session that lasted roughly 10 minutes on Wednesday afternoon under the watchful eyes of pitching coach Roger McDowell and bullpen coach Eddie Perez.
"It went well, I felt good," Beachy said. "The plan right now is to see how I feel tomorrow."
The Braves had played it safe with Beachy for nearly two weeks after an MRI exam on June 15 revealed inflammation in his right elbow, but now the right-hander is playing catch and throwing off the mound on a more regular basis. Beachy had thrown a 30-pitch bullpen session on Saturday and 15 pitches on Sunday prior to Wednesday's session, and the Braves have not yet established a timetable for any Minor League rehab assignment.
"I've felt good since I started throwing again," Beachy said. "I feel like it's cleared up in there. It feels good."
The fact that Beachy's setback came just days before his scheduled return to the rotation after a year-long recovery from Tommy John surgery frustrated the highly competitive starter, but each bullpen session without any further discomfort puts the disappointment of his delayed return farther in the past.
"Everyone's had something," Beachy said. "Just like I said before, it's unfortunate, the timing of it. I'm feeling good now. [Let's] just see how I feel tomorrow after throwing today."
B.J. shakes off soreness; Schafer not fully back
ATLANTA -- B.J. Upton's confidence that he would be able to start Wednesday's scheduled game -- after exiting with left forearm muscle spasms on Tuesday night -- was welcome news for the Braves, who may not have utility outfielder Jordan Schafer back to full capacity for a few more days.
Schafer was called into action to leg out an RBI infield single on Tuesday, his first game action in six days since fouling a ball off his right ankle. Pinch-hitting for Kris Medlen in the sixth inning, Schafer sent a sharp comebacker to the mound that hit the foot of Miami reliever Ryan Webb, and the outfielder half-sprinted, half-hobbled to first base as Webb booted the ball into foul territory.
"He tells you that he can probably jog, and then you tell him, 'OK, well then, jog,'" Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said after Tuesday night's 11-3 win over the Marlins. "And then he hits the ball up the middle and he sniffs a base hit, and the competitive juices take off."
"You don't really want to give those away too often," Schafer said. "It's getting better, it's just taking a little longer than I'd like, but I can walk pretty normal now, I can jog decent, I just can't run. It hurts a little bit when I swing, but maybe we'll get a break the next couple of days and it'll get better."
On Wednesday afternoon, Schafer had not wrapped his right ankle in tape for the first time and was able to pinpoint exactly where the residual effects of his injury were bothering him.
"It's all in my Achilles there," Schafer said. "Once I can get that away, I'll be fine. The soreness is not a big deal, it's that blood sitting on the Achilles is what bothers me. When you try to push off and run, you're kind of pushing against it, and it doesn't really feel any good."
While he admitted that his trip down the first-base line "didn't feel very good," Schafer felt confident he could fill the same role if called upon during the rest of the series.
"Hopefully it's like a clean single and I don't have to run," Schafer said. "Or I can bunt, like a squeeze, that'd be nice. I could just walk back to the dugout."
Eric Single is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.