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Atlanta must adjust with expected loss of the left fielder Hector Olivera

Bill Shanks looks at what's next for the Braves with Hector Olivera facing domestic abuse charges.

With Wednesday morning's arrest of Braves' left fielder Hector Olivera, a team already reeling with a 0-7 record now must continue on without a player counted on in the lineup.

Daniel Castro is expected to be called up from Gwinnett to replace Olivera on the 25-man roster. Olivera will be placed on paid administrative leave and eventually face suspension from Commissioner Rob Manfred. 

Manfred suspended Yankees' pitcher Aroldis Chapman for 30 games for his domestic issue. We don't know many details in the Olivera story yet, but that 30-game suspension may have set the bar as to what to expect.

Either way, Olivera is gone for a while. For now, Drew Stubbs and Jeff Francoeur could step in and get more playing time. The Braves would likely play Stubbs in center and move Mallex Smith to left, while Smith might stay in center when Francoeur plays left.

It does give Smith the chance to stay longer. He likely would have returned to Gwinnett when Ender Inciarte gets off the disabled list, but if Smith does well the Braves may decide to go ahead and give him the playing time in left field.

Emilio Bonifacio also is an option. The Braves released him at the end of spring training but just signed him back as a minor league free agent. Bonifacio is in Gwinnett, and if the team preferred to have Smith get more seasoning they could promote Bonifacio to add to the mix in left field once Inciarte returns to center.

Olivera was hitting .211 with a .238 on base percentage, no home runs and two RBI in 21 plate appearances. Stubbs is hitting .250 in 14 plate appearances with one home run and three RBI. Francoeur has one hit in his nine plate appearances so far this season. 

The Braves' offense continues to be an issue. The team is next-to-last in team batting average among the 30 teams with a .203 mark and has scored only 22 runs in seven games (tied for fifth-worst in baseball).

How will manager Fredi Gonzalez deal with the lineup now with Olivera gone? Take a wild guess on that one.

The Braves' organization has rarely had to deal with a problem like this in the last 25 years, so it'll be interesting to see how they handle Olivera moving forward. 

Listen to “The Bill Shanks Show” from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WPLA Fox Sports 1670 AM in Macon and online at http://www.foxsports1670.com/. Follow Bill at twitter.com/BillShanks and email him at thebillshanksshow@yahoo.com.


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