Ex-Chant La Stella swings hot bat for surging Braves

lastellaFormer Coastal Carolina University baseball standout Tommy La Stella said he only wanted an opportunity to show what he could do on the major league level. He’s making the most of it.

The Atlanta Braves second baseman was called up on May 29 to replace a struggling Dan Uggla, and La Stella made a nice first impression by getting a pair of hits in his big league debut – a 4-0 win over the Red Sox.

“He’s a guy that’s going to split the gaps, get on base,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He’s got great plate discipline. It’s good to be able to have that in your lineup. It’s nice to have that change, and hopefully he gives us something.”

After making some key defensive mistakes and cooling off a bit at the plate throughout June, La Stella is no showing signs that he will stick with the Braves for the foreseeable future.

La Stella finished the first half with a 3-for-5, three-RBI performance in a win over the Cubs to bring his first-half numbers up to a .292 batting average, 17 RBIs, 12 runs scored and two stolen bases.

The Braves showed they were putting their faith in the former Chanticleer to start the second half by releasing Uggla. That gave La Stella the green light to be an everyday player, and some added pressure to produce.

“To be honest with you, I’m not really so much concerned about what they do to me,” he said. “I’m going to stick to my approach and what I do well and hopefully it works out.”

La Stella has stayed hot since the all-star break, going 3-for-10 with four RBIs and two runs scored. He had a key bases-clearing double in Sunday’s 8-2 victory over the Phillies to remain tied with the Nationals for the NL East lead.

Perhaps La Stella’s biggest asset is his ability to deliver in the clutch. In seven plate appearances with the bases loaded, La Stella has delivered a key hit in six of them, which could make him a key figure in Atlanta’s quest for a playoff berth.

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