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The Braves' Jordan Schafer Takes the Slow Road Back to Baseball

For over a month last year Atlanta Braves opening day center fielder Jordan Schafer played hurt, and not just a little hurt; he had to eventually have surgery in the off-season to fix a broken bone in his wrist. That led to him missing half of the season, and has carried over this spring as he has yet to appear in any spring games. And if you hear Schafer tell it, it looks like he may not, "I really don't care at this point how long it takes," said Schafer, "I just want to make sure I get it healthy before I go and play."

To his credit he has learned from last year and seems determined not to repeat those mistakes, "I just don't want to go through the same thing as last year, trying to play hurt." He reiterated that he's on no particular time table to come back, "If I'm ready by opening day or if it takes two months, it doesn't really matter, because I just want to make sure I'm healthy before I get on the field."

Earlier this spring and during pre-camp workouts, Schafer was pushing his wrist too hard. That led to some major discomfort, Schafer explains, "I've got scar tissue in there, and the nerves were kind of trapped. When I'd swing it would shoot little shots of pain through my hand. So we had to get that massaged out and break up that scar tissue. It's starting to feel better when I'm hitting off the tee, so I'll start hitting on the field and we'll see how it goes." While Schafer is hitting off a tee and took batting practice today, he has yet to hit against live pitching, and that will be the real test for his reconstructed wrist.

As much as everyone is talking about this Heyward guy, the team could really use a healthy and productive Jordan Schafer. Not only does he bring excellent defense to any spot in the outfield, but he may be the only guy the Braves currently have who is a natural leadoff hitter. We'll keep an eye on him in the coming weeks, but if you were holding your breath waiting for him to come back any time soon, exhale.

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