The Braves wanted Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson at their best, competing hard for the third-base job this spring, and so far they have.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez also said he’d prefer one win the job outright rather than settle on a platoon. Still waiting for that.
Just over one-third of the way through the Grapefruit League schedule, it’s way too close to call.
Johnson went 3-for-3 with two singles and a home run in the Braves’ 4-2 win against the New York Mets on Monday at Tradition Field, a day after Francisco had a pair of doubles in a win against Detroit.
Johnson, in the lineup at first base Monday, is 8-for-19 (.421) with two home runs, four RBIs and one strikeout in eight games this spring, and has multiple hits in three of six games in which he's batted more than once.
Francisco is 8-for-24 (.333) with two doubles, one homer, four RBIs and four strikeouts in eight games. Neither has drawn a walk, and neither is likely to draw many during the season.
“It’s going to be fun,” Johnson said. “Juan can definitely play. I’m just trying to see if I can hang with him and give him a little competition.”
He smiled as he said that. No one doubts Johnson can give Francisco, 25, more than a little competition. The Braves have known that since getting Johnson, 28, from Arizona as part of the seven-player trade that brought Justin Upton to Atlanta.