Atlanta manager Fredi Gonzalez isn't calling it a platoon in center field, but his actions say otherwise.
In the four games since Jason Heyward sustained a season-ending broken jaw, the Braves started Jordan Schafer twice and B.J. Upton twice in center field. Since Heyward was hit by a pitch in New York, Justin Upton has been the starter in right field.
Gonzalez has given Upton, the team's high-priced free agent acquisition, plenty of opportunities to play through his season-long slump. Upton is in the first year of a five-year contract that pays him $75.25 million. His batting average of .182 was the lowest among regulars in the National League. He has only eight homers and 21 RBIs and has struck out 124 times in 329 at-bats.
Upton was hot when he returned from a stay on the 15-day disabled list for a strained adductor muscle. Since his first five games back, when he went 10-for-21, Upton has gone 1-for-31 with 15 strikeouts.
"Obviously, I want to play every day," Upton said. "It's not my doing. I've always been the guy who, even at my worst, I've always played through it, and always been out there every day. It's really out of my hands."
Schafer, who spent a month on the disabled list with a fractured leg, has started 10 of the last 14 games, including eight in center field. He's started all four games -- two in left and two in center -- since Heyward was hurt.
Since returning from the DL, Schafer has seen his batting average fall from .309 to .270. He had two hits Sunday and is 5-for-38 in his last 10 starts. Schafer is considered a better base runner and superior defensive player.