The Union Recorder

Local Sports

January 30, 2013

Justin Upton finds new home in Braves' lineup

ATLANTA — Fredi Gonzalez sat down and started writing out projected lineups last week as soon as he heard the Braves had traded for Justin Upton.

It didn't take long. The manager says making out lineups just got easier.

Gonzalez used 107 lineups last year, sometimes adjusting due to the opposing pitcher.

He said his juggling days are over. He says Justin Upton will be the No. 3 hitter. Older brother B.J. Upton, who signed with Atlanta in November, and catcher Brian McCann, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, will follow in the middle of the lineup.

"When you have B.J. and Justin and a healthy McCann, that's the middle of your lineup," Gonzalez said. "It doesn't matter who is pitching against you that night. Those are your three. Having those three there, it's going to be a little easier."

McCann may miss the first two weeks of the season. Gerald Laird, McCann's new backup, had his first workouts in the team's voluntary pitching camp on Tuesday.

Shortstop Andrelton Simmons is the new leadoff hitter. Jason Heyward is expected to hit second. First baseman Freddie Freeman, second baseman Dan Uggla and one of two third basemen, Chris Johnson and Juan Francisco, complete the lineup.

Justin Upton, acquired with Johnson from Arizona in a seven-player trade on Thursday, had his first news conference on Tuesday. B.J. was in the audience with the brothers' beaming parents, Manny and Yvonne.

The Upton brothers dreamed of playing together in the same outfield but assumed their best chance would come later in their careers.

"No, I didn't think it would happen this year," said Justin Upton. "You don't get that lucky."

As he tried on his new No. 8 Braves jersey, Justin said it was "a special day for my family."

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