Schafer Returns To Strange New Braves World

Outfielder Not Assured Of Job After Season With Astros.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 - by David Jenkins
Jordan Schafer
Jordan Schafer
- photo by Tim Evearitt

     When Jordan Schafer and Michael Bourn swapped teams at the 2011 July trade deadline, both the Atlanta Braves and Houston Astros were acquiring what they hoped was their center fielder of the future.

    But as spring training draws near in 2013, here's Jordan Schafer looking slightly lost as a member of the Braves Caravan. Michael Bourn is nowhere to be seen as both teams' long-term plans for their new outfielder went by the boards, and Schafer, no longer the camp phenom at age 26, is not even assured of a job.

    It's a strange new Braves world Schafer rejoins after being claimed on waivers almost immediately after the Astros tried to removed him from their 40-man roster.  At the time, Frank Wren claimed the move was a virtual no-brainer for the Braves because they'd seen what a healthy and focused Schafer could do.

    But that magical minor league season of 2007, when he hit .312 with 74 extra base hits and 23 stolen bases, is a distant image in the rear vliew mirror. Schafer is delighted to return to the organization that drafted him (or so he told Twitter in mid-January).  But he noticed almost immediately that these are not the save Braves he remembered.

    "It's very different," Schafer said. "I think this team will be a lot more athletic team all-around, a better team all around," he said during the Braves Caravan stopover in Dalton this week. "It's a team moving in a different direction."

    That was a phrase Schafer heard when the Astros gave up on him after he started less than 90 games in 2012 (.211-4-23 with 23 SBs). That followed his 30-game tryout the previous September, when he hit .245 with seven steals. Some nagging injuries and  an off-season pot citation were all likely contributing factors.  At present, the whys and wherefores are still eluding him.

    "They're goving in another direction,"  Schafer said, choosing his words carefully. "They have a couple of other young players that they wanted to get to a good look at."

     Any hopes he entertained of being a key part of Atlanta's new look were diminished soon after his return when the Braves snatched up the free agent contract of another of the game's top center fielders, B.J. Upton from Tampa Bay.  Just that quickly, his battle was to avoid being Gwinnett's everyday center fielder in 2013.

    No one would consider Schafer a front-runner for the Braves' extra outfielder job, as former Cub Reed Johnson ranks among the National League's best pinch-hitters.

    More than a couple of fans raised their eyebrows upon seeing Schafer among those signing at the Caravan signing. Ironically, he was probably the most qualified Braves player to inform fans and media about his new teammate, third baseman Chris Johnson. Acquired with Justin Upton for a five-player package headed by Martin Prado, Johnson was Schafer's teammate with the Astros for most of the 2012 season.

    "He's a good player," Schafer said. "He's a good offensive player who knows how to hit. He can hit for power, but knows how to hit the ball the other way.  Plus, he's a good guy and someone I'm excited to have on this team."

Follow David Jenkins on Twitter at DavidAJ4325

 


Barry Young's Sports Memorabilia To Be Auctioned

Barry Young for years dedicated himself to his love of youth athletics and athletics in general; through his love of being an official for youth baseball, youth football, youth basketball and more all the way through college athletics.   Barry was always the guy who had “cool” stuff like team jackets and jerseys with mementos sewn into the pieces, the signed autographs ... (click for more)

Covenant Men Fall At Piedmont 59-56

 On a night where both teams struggled shooting from the field, the Covenant men's basketball team rallied late but ultimately fell to host Piedmont 59-56 in USA South action inside Cave Arena on Wednesday night. The teams both shot just over 30 percent from the field, but it was a key 3-pointer from Piedmont's Peyton Luken that gave the Lions a 55-52 lead with over a ... (click for more)

First Chattanooga Parking Study Since 2004 Gets Underway

The first comprehensive study of parking in downtown Chattanooga since 2004 is getting underway. The project  Is being led by the River City Company and CARTA in partnership with the city of Chattanooga. It is funded by the Lyndhurst and Benwood Foundations along with several downtown stakeholders including Erlanger Health System, UTC and Siskin Hospital. The study ... (click for more)

Cleveland To Get Bus Service To Chattanooga Under Federal Grant

Cleveland, Tn., will be getting bus service to Chattanooga under a federal grant. The city was notified recently that the Tennessee Department of Transportation selected its proposal for funding under the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement program. Tanisha J. Hall, state long range planning division director, said, "The Cleveland-Chattanooga Commute ... (click for more)

Beyond Freedom Of Speech - And Response

Yes, most people know about the First Amendment to our Constitution, "The right, guaranteed by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, to express beliefs and ideas without unwarranted government restriction."  I being a "deplorable" draw the line when people block traffic, try to disrupt, and even stop an activity through malice and disregard for others. Case being ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Where Is Central’s Auditorium?

I am surely one of the biggest proponents of high school athletics there is, especially after half a decade of being an eye witness to the vast array of lessons that are learned every day by anyone associated with sports. That said, I have watched the Hamilton County Commission waffle on a $500,000 track at Central High School with a certain curiosity because the same high school ... (click for more)