ATLANTA -- Defensive specialists don't get many opportunities to contribute offensively.
That's why veteran shortstop Jack Wilson, who has filled that role for the Braves this season, was so excited about being able to do so Tuesday night in a 6-2 win over Cincinnati.
Wilson led off the third inning with a single to left. While he didn't get to spend a lot of time on the bases -- he was forced out by the next batter, pitcher Tim Hudson, whose attempted sacrifice turned into a 1-6 fielder's choice -- but the hit set the tone for the four-run, five-hit outburst that broke open the game.
"Obviously, this season hasn't gone that well offensively for me, but defensively I've been able to go in there and help the team win," Wilson said. "It's nice to get up there and get a hit to spark the rally and just come up with the win. Get some at-bats, start feeling a little bit better."
The hit led manager Fredi Gonzalez to remind the media that Wilson has a 200-hit season on his resumé (2004, when he had 201 with the Pirates).
"Jack is a defensive specialist, but if you look at the back of his baseball card, he's a guy that had 200 hits one year," said Gonzalez. "He's not an automatic out. You have to respect him.
"The last few years, being injured a little bit in Seattle and not really getting any playing time, he's behind a little bit offensively. But I feel confident he can do what we ask of him in the eight hole -- hit and run, bunt, get some big knocks. It's a nice piece to have."
No one has to tell Tyler Pastornicky about Wilson's legacy and professionalism.
"Jack's done it for a lot of years, so it's not surprising," said the Braves' starting shortstop. "But it's always fun when I get a night off like that to get to see him go out there and play well and help out the team."
"I kind of watch his work ethic on his routine before games and how he gets ready for games. That's really helped me a lot, just watching how he goes about getting his ground balls, getting in position. It's stuff like that. I just pick up little things and I try things out, and what's for me, I do, and if it's not something I can do, I just kind of move on."
Wilson has taken it upon himself to be the ultimate professional, taking Pastornicky under his wing as was done for him.
"I met him last year that last day of the season. It was more just shortstop-to-shortstop type of stuff," Wilson recalled. "Then I ended up signing back and spent some time with him in the offseason. I had Pat Mears and Kevin Young, guys who kind of took me under their wing when I was a rookie. So it's kind of like passing the torch a little bit, being able to do that with Tyler. So it's been fun and he's been doing great."
Eye trouble resolved, Freeman back in lineup
ATLANTA -- First baseman Freddie Freeman returned to the Braves' lineup
Wednesday after scratches in both eyes forced him to miss Tuesday's 6-2 victory against the Reds.
Freeman said he had been dealing with eye trouble since the Braves visited Colorado two weekends ago, but the injury was not diagnosed until he had to leave Monday's game after the seventh inning. He visited Alan Kozarsky, the Braves' eye doctor, that night and received antibiotic eye drops that healed the scratches.
Kozarsky cleared Freeman to play after Freeman was able to wear his contacts for 35 minutes Wednesday morning without a problem. Freeman said he immediately texted manager Fredi Gonzalez.
"I said, 'I'm good,'" Freeman said. "And I'm in [the lineup], so that's all that counts."
As a result of the incident, Freeman will get a pair of glasses he can wear on the field in case he can't wear contacts for some reason. He expects to receive them tomorrow.
Freeman is just happy to be playing again after missing just his second game of the season.
"It's not fun at all," he said. "It's hard to sit in the dugout when you're groomed to play every day."
With Bourn resting, Pastornicky leads off
ATLANTA -- The Braves like what they've seen with Michael Bourn at the top of the order and in center field.
But everybody needs a day off, and Wednesday night was Bourn's turn.
When the Braves opened their two-game set with the Marlins, they fielded a lineup with rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky hitting leadoff and Jason Heyward shifting from right field to center. Juan Francisco, playing third to spell Chipper Jones, batted in Pastornicky's eighth spot.
Manager Fredi Gonzalez admitted that he had two different lineups for the game, one with Pastornicky leading off and another with left fielder Martin Prado batting first. While Prado has more Major League experience leading off -- 132 games worth and a .297 average in that spot -- Gonzalez chose the former after conferring with his staff.
"I sat down with [bench coach] Carlos [Tosca] and the coaches and said, 'What do you think?'" Gonzalez said. "They said, 'Run Tyler out there. Let him lead off. We know he's done it in the Minor Leagues. We'll do it that way.'"
The batting order, with Prado batting second, also required fewer personnel shifts as Pastornicky was the only one moving.
"You put Prado first, then you have to put Pastornicky second and you're messing with the whole cohesiveness of the lineup," said Gonzalez. "So it's just one move."
Prado may be the only batter in the Braves' lineup who is as hot as Bourn, who came into Wednesday night riding a seven-game hitting streak, during which he's hit .433 (13-for-30). But Pastornicky has began to heat up, as well.
Pastornicky, who comes into the Marlins series hitting .269, is riding a four-game hitting streak of his own, during which he's hitting .313, and over the last 20 games, he has hit .328 (21-for-64), raising his average from .171.
Gonzalez believes that Pastornicky has the approach and the speed to be a leadoff hitter at the Major League level.
"In his future, I think he's a top-of-the-order type hitter," the manager said. "The way he's been able to get on base, swing the bat and use his speed, he's a tough out. So we'll see."
"I'm excited," said the 22-year-old shortstop, who had hit eighth in all 28 of his starts in his rookie campaign. "It's going to be fun to hit in the first inning and try to get something going early. As far as I'm concerned about approach, I think it's just kind of the same at-bats I've been having. I don't think I really have to change anything."
Pastornicky didn't know he was hitting leadoff until he arrived at Turner Field. Not quite the advance that Bourn got.
"He hasn't earned that three days' advance yet," Gonzalez said with a laugh.
The defensive shift of Heyward to center field -- with Matt Diaz starting in right -- is a much better-known quantity for Gonzalez, who played Heyward in center several times during the spring in anticipation of days like Wednesday.
"I know what he can do. We saw it in Spring Training." said Gonzalez. "He's very athletic, he can do it and I think he likes it.
"We're dealing with human beings. Every once in a while you throw them a bone and say, 'Go play center.' He's going to be fine."
While it was tough to sit Bourn, who has been scaling the ball at the plate, the move was a necessity to save the speedster's legs during the stretch of 32 games in 33 days.
"He's a little banged up right now. Nothing major, just the legs are a little banged up and we chose [Miami left-handed starter Mark] Buehrle to give him a day off," said Gonzalez. "He knew this was going to happen three, four days ago. I don't like to surprise any of my players."
Gonzalez hinted that Heyward's day in center and Bourn's day off might be abbreviated.
"If we're winning in the seventh inning, guess what? [Heyward] goes back to right and Bournie goes into center," Gonzalez said. "It will only be like seven innings off, not the whole game."
Teddy Cahill is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.