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


Signal Mountain's Porter, Luthringer Win Front Runner Titles

Signal Mountain's Taylor Luthringer and Thomas Porter were the individual winners of the annual Front Runner Invitational cross country race at Baylor Thursday afternoon while the Baylor girls and the McCallie boys were the team champions. Luthringer covered the 3.1-mile course in 19 minutes, three seconds to beat runner-up Carley Braman of GPS by 35 seconds.  Kathryn ... (click for more)

11th Ranked Bryan Ties 7th Ranked Campbellsville

Coming off a 2-1 double overtime victory on Tuesday that topped a Reinhardt University (Ga.) team that just recently fell from the top-25 in the NAIA, the 11th ranked Bryan College Men’s Soccer team continued their extraordinary undefeated season on Thursday night with their second 0-0 draw against a top-10 team in the nation, 7th ranked Campbellsville University. Both the Lions ... (click for more)

Domestic Assault Charge Dismissed Against Bobby Stone In Case Involving Mayor's Top Advisor

A charge of domestic assault was dismissed Friday morning against Bobby Stone in a case involving a top advisor to Mayor Andy Berke.  District Attorney Neal Pinkston said Mr. Stone was not read his Miranda rights and the arrest was based on his statement. He also cited the involvement in the arrest by the mayor's office with Chief of Staff Stacy Richardson going to the ... (click for more)

Firefighters Respond To Commercial Fire In Alton Park

The Chattanooga Fire Department on Thursday responded to a fire at Metalcasting Minerals Technologies at 3406 Alton Park Blvd. with five fire companies. Battalion Chief Ashley May said a hopper was full of combustible materials and a small area was on fire. Firefighters opened the hopper's hatch and applied large amounts of water and foam to the burning coal dust-type material. ... (click for more)

Literacy Is Critical

Government spending is often portrayed as a freight train "quickly running out of track." And there is some truth to that statement. There is not an endless supply of money to fund every good idea that comes along, and we must acknowledge that problem. Fiscal responsibility is a must.  That is why spending on priority issues like public education is important. You can spend ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Prayer Over Despair

As a strong proponent of early voting, I joined hundreds at the Hamilton County Election Commission headquarters on Amnicola Highway yesterday to exercise what I consider one of our greatest freedoms – “for the people, by the people.” Candidly, I have never been as upset or as disappointed over my choices for President in my life. Locally I am fine with our candidates but to pick ... (click for more)