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Nate McLouth will start in center this year for Atlanta

Jan 20, 2011, 9:03 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves v San Francisco Giants, Game 1 Getty Images

Braves outfielder Nate McLouth had the worst offensive season of his career in 2010, posting a miserable .190 batting average and .620 OPS across 288 plate appearances.  He was demoted to the Triple-A level at one point and he also battled a concussion near the middle of the summer.

It was a brutal showing.

But, because he is owed $7.5 million this season on the final year of his current contract and because the Braves don’t have any better options, McLouth is going to open the 2011 season as Atlanta’s starting center fielder.

Braves general manager Frank Wren confirmed that fact Thursday in a chat with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s David O’Brien:

“We think he can do it,” Wren said. “I think we saw enough in September, and we’ve seen enough in his career. I mean, he’s a good player. I believe — and I think most people around here believe — that what we saw for that first year he was with us, was an aberration. That’s not Nate McLouth. I mean, he’s too good a player, there’s too many teams that would love to have him. And he brings some things to the table that we don’t have.”

If it simply doesn’t work out, the Braves could turn to Joe Mather, an athletic outfielder who spent the last several seasons posting good numbers in the Cardinals’ minor league system.  Or they could turn back to Jordan Schafer, though his numbers at Triple-A last year (.509 OPS in 208 PAs) were awfully frightening.

  1. bobulated - Jan 20, 2011 at 11:14 PM

    Word is that Schafer was still recovering from his wrist injury this past summer so the Braves (at least publicly) are not too concerned about his AAA numbers. Everything I’ve read indicates he’s in much better strength physically and emotionally as he works in the off season. Admittedly that is coming from Braves beat guy Dave O’Brien but Dave has never some off as a complete mouthpiece or shill for the Braves so Schafer might be getting closer to being the hot prospect that homered in his first MLB ab a few years back.

  2. BC - Jan 21, 2011 at 11:05 AM

    Craig C., my thoughts are with you. My condolences.

  3. baseballstars - Jan 21, 2011 at 7:55 PM

    Although it’s not an ideal situation, at least if McClouth is good and the Braves disappoint, they may be able to move him and get something back in return. I still think he’s better than what he has shown in Atlanta.

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