Spring Training Preview: Second Base

For the first time in three years, the Braves will have a new starting second baseman on Opening Day.

Kelly Johnson had a rough month of June and lost his job to Martin Prado, who at that same time was flourishing with more at bats.

Now Johnson is gone to Arizona after being non-tendered this winter, and second base belongs to Prado.

He'll no longer have to split the position, and we will no longer know when Prado is going to get his chance. It's his position, and the time is now.

Prado hit .307 last season with 11 home runs and 49 RBI in 450 at bats. Remember a few years ago when Bobby Cox predicted Prado might hit 20 home runs one year? People aren't laughing at that statement anymore.

Now Prado isn't going to be asked to hit home runs, although he did show last year with a professional high that he can do it when necessary. Prado instead will be asked to get on base from the second spot in the batting order.

Prado's OBP last year was .358, and he'll need to be in that same neighborhood this year hitting behind Nate McLouth. With Troy Glaus hitting cleanup, the middle of the order should be better, which will put even more pressure on Prado to get on base.

Prado is versatile, so don't be shocked if Cox moves him around if needed. Omar Infante can also play second base, and you can expect whoever wins the last reserve infield spot to have experience at second base as well.

Brooks Conrad and non-roster invitee Joe Thurston will battle it out for that job.

But second base belongs to Martin Prado now, and we'll all finally get a chance to see what Prado can do in a full season at second base.

Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on WFSM Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, Georgia and The Braves Show Talk Show. Shanks writes a weekly column for The Macon Telegraph. Email Bill at thebravesshow@email.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/billshanks.

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