News came from Atlanta Braves‘ camp on Monday that Jose Constanza, Tyler Pastornicky and David Carpenter were being optioned to the minors. That has all but locked up Jordan Schafer on the Opening Day roster.
Unless the Braves choose the unlikely route of keeping three catchers to start the season without Brian McCann, Schafer will be the fifth outfielder on the MLB roster. That must be a redeeming feeling for the 26-year-old who has endured a long journey to get to this point.
The future seemed bright when he entered the 2009 season as the starting center fielder and promptly homered in his first career at-bat on the road against the Philadelphia Phillies. Since that night, he has struggled mightily and was sent back to the minors, was suspended for steroid use, got traded to the worst team in the league (Houston Astros) and waived by that team following a marijuana arrest. Out of minor league options, Schafer entered this spring training with one last chance with the Atlanta Braves.
That’s a humbling journey for a player who was once viewed as the top prospect in the organization. He seemingly embraced the challenge this spring by posting a respectable .241 batting average and .323 on-base percentage. More importantly, he was active on the basepaths in leading the team with four stolen bases and finished tied for fourth with 11 runs. He also flashed the defensive skills that have never been a problem with his game. Constanza missing a month of action did not hurt Schafer’s chances, but he has taken the right approach this spring by all accounts.
The Braves gave Schafer one last chance. He will likely get to wear that Braves’ jersey once again come Opening Day. It’s no time to relax, however. The journey to get back to this point can end just as quickly. Schafer of all people should understand that.