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MLB Atlanta Braves

Chris Johnson’s Three Hits Lead Atlanta Braves in Win

Chris Johnson Atlanta Braves

Brad Barr-USA Today Sports

Juan Francisco isn’t backing down from a competition for a starting spot at third base. Your move Chris Johnson.

The Atlanta Braves‘ third base position seems as open as ever following Johnson’s impressive 3-for-4 performance that included a home run in the Braves’ 2-1 win against the New York Mets on Sunday. Johnson turned on an inside fastball off Mets’ pitcher Jonathan Niese for a solo home run and his third of the spring.

The home run was sandwiched between singles in the second and sixth inning off Niese and Brandon Lyon. Johnson got an opportunity for a four-hit performance but grounded out in his last at-bat in the ninth inning.

While Johnson played a strong game on Sunday, all he likely did was keep pace for the starting third base spot. Johnson holds the edge in batting with a .333 average and has struck out seven times – half as many as Francisco. However, Francisco holds the edge in on-base (Johnson’s OBP is actually lower than his average at .327) , OPS and slugging. Basically, Johnson looks to be a more consistent hitter while Francisco provides more power.

Johnson put a positive performance on the field to keep pace in the heated race for third base. The longer this goes, the more it looks to be a platoon to begin the 2013 season.

Other Notes: Freddie Freeman drove in the other run with an RBI single in the sixth. Julio Teheran continued his phenomenal spring work allowing just one run (home run) on three hits while striking out seven in six innings of work. Dan Uggla‘s rough spring continued with an 0-for-4 showing including two strikeouts.

Strikeout Watch: The Braves struck out eight times bringing their total to 174 – third most in the MLB.

Third Base Competition: Francisco got a pinch-hit opportunity and delivered a single in his only at-bat.

Up Next: The Braves play the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday afternoon with Kris Medlen on the hill.