The Braves activated Prado from the disabled list Tuesday and moved him to a new position for the opener of a series against the Washington Nationals. He was playing third base and batting third, both spots Jones occupied before he went down with a season-ending knee injury last week.
Omar Infante remained at second base and batting leadoff, which were Prado’s spots on the field and in the order before he broke his right pinky finger sliding into home against Cincinnati on July 30.
“I’m not even close to Chipper,” Prado said. “I don’t want the fans to think I’m Chipper Jones. He’s somebody special. He’s been with the Braves for a long time. I’m just a regular guy trying to do my job and help this team win.”
Prado was being modest about his role with the first-place Braves, who had a 2 1/2-game lead over Philadelphia in the NL East. He sparked the offense when he moved to the leadoff role, started in his first All-Star Game appearance and was hitting .315 with 13 homers and 43 RBIs when he was hurt.
“He gives us another great hitter in the lineup,” manager Bobby Cox said. “We need him.”
The 38-year-old Jones tore up his left knee while making a throw at Houston last week. Even though his overall numbers (.265, 10 homers, 46 RBIs) weren’t that special, he had come on strong after a dismal start that had him talking retirement.
Prado should provide similar punch in the middle of a lineup, though he tried to downplay expectations.
“I don’t want people to look at me like I’m going to have Chipper’s numbers,” he said. “I’m not going to do that. I don’t want people to put that kind of pressure on me. We have nine guys who are trying to do something special.”
Moving to third shouldn’t be a major issue for Prado, who played the position coming through the minors and 82 major-league games at that spot over the past four years.
“That’s where he fits,” Cox said. “All Martin wants to do it play. Nothing else is important.”
Besides, Prado still expects to get some time at second base since the Braves have plenty of versatile players on their roster, with Infante, Brooks Conrad and Eric Hinske also available at multiple positions.