These days, the Atlanta Braves expect Chipper Jones to miss a few games here and there. He’s not as young as he once was and he needs a day off here or there even if he’s healthy. Last year, Martin Prado stepped into his shoes when Chipper was out, but with him winning the starting job at second, it wasn’t clear who might step into his shoes this year.
Enter Brooks Conrad.
You might remember July 3 of last season. Brooks hit his first career Major League home run – at age 29 – as a pinch hitter. The three run blast helped propel the Braves to a win over the Washington Nationals.
This season, Brooks has hit a walk-off grand slam, has filled in with some great defensive plays at third, and is hitting .277. In June, Conrad hit .313, fielded like a champ at third base (except that one time he discovered his uniform buttons need to be closer together), laid down a squeeze bunt for the winning run against the Minnesota Twins, and hustled on every single play I’ve seen.
And damn, isn’t he just fun to watch? Someone hustling on every play, running flat out all the time, not afraid to slide or dive after a ball? Someone who bats with more pine tar on his bat than is on Manny Ramirez’s helmet – who doesn’t use batting gloves? Is there a grittier, more hard working guy in all of baseball?
It’s like Conrad finally got his chance to stick around in the big leagues after being drafted in the eighth round (236 overall) of the 2001 draft, and he’s going to work his ass of to stick around. You can tell in the way that he plays that he’s enjoying every single at-bat and relishing every single inning. He’s living the dream many of us had growing up. If he keeps it up, he may just work himself into the lineup next year. He’s a very valuable bench player to have, at the very least. But you never know, maybe we’re watching Chipper’s replacement cut his teeth.
I know I’d like to see him stick around.
Tags: Brooks Conrad
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