Fredi Gonzalez keeps trying to avoid beating the topic into the ground, but Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson are making it tough because they both keep beating the ball up in Grapefruit League play.
So it has become part of the spring training routine for the Braves’ manager: Francisco and Johnson take turns producing (or do it at the same time), and then reporters corner Gonzalez to ask him if either guy has won the third-base job or at least pulled ahead in the race.
“I keep saying I don’t want to talk about it daily,” Gonzalez said, “and we end up talking about it like it’s a grade every day.”
There’s been plenty for Gonzalez to talk about with either player — or both — nearly every day. A recent stretch of games put the competition in the spotlight again.
Francisco hit a booming home run Friday against the Mets and then again Saturday against the Yankees. Johnson followed that with three hits Sunday against the Mets.
Francisco had a pinch-hit single against the Mets on Sunday and then went 3-for-5 with another home run against the Phillies on Monday. Johnson had a pinch-hit RBI single against the Phillies.
Numbers like those are why the questions about third base keep coming for Gonzalez, who praises both players while never tipping his hand.
“I’m not ready to make a decision right now, one or the other,” Gonzalez said. “They’ve both been great. ‘Juanny’ (has) a couple more home runs. Both play a good third base, better than average defensively. We’ll see. I’m open to a platoon situation, but I’m also open to whoever wins it outright.”
Competition at third keeps Fredi Gonzalez talking
Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Mar 20