Injuries are an extremely unfortunate part of the game. But for MLBbro Travis Demeritte, injuries can lead to opportunity.
Originally, Demeritte was called up to fill the roster spot left vacant by Austin Riley – away on paternity leave after the birth of his baby boy. But after NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario was placed on the 10-day list with blurred vision and swelling in his right eye, Travis found himself in the starting lineup, Tuesday against the Chicago Cubs.
“It’s been a long road, but I feel great,” Demeritte said. “To be able to put this uniform on and play in front of family and friends in a state I grew up in, it’s almost scripted. It felt almost too good to be true.”
Long road may be an understatement. The 27-year-old Georgia native has been included in multiple transactions since he was taken 30th overall in the 2013 MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers. Travis has always shown potential as a power hitter, but high strikeout rates have kept him in the minors the majority of his career.
This is Demeritte’s second stint with the Braves, who originally acquired him from the Rangers in 2016. Despite high power numbers and a conversion from second base to outfield, Travis was traded to the Tigers in 2019.
He hit .198 with three homers and a .554 OPS in 66 games in the bigs before being released.
Now back in Atlanta, Travis didn’t wait long to make the most of his opportunity. With two outs in the top of the fourth, Demeritte sprinted toward the right field foul line, sliding to make a spectacular catch in foul territory. Demeritte wasn’t done, stepping into the box in the bottom of the fifth inning against fellow MLBbro Marcus Stroman, looking to make another statement.
Stroman tried to sneak past a first-pitch fastball over the plate. Demeritte was all over it, sending the pitch screaming over the bricks above Truist Park’s right field wall for his first home run of the season. In seven at-bats, Travis has three hits, two runs, one homer and boasts a .429 BA and OBP.
Rosario is expected to miss eight to 12 weeks, so while the return of superstar Ronald Acuna Jr. is looming, Demeritte has gone from short-term rental to long-term placeholder. Braves Manager Brian Snitker made it clear that Travis will be given every opportunity to earn time in the Braves outfield.
“When somebody goes down like that, it gives somebody else a chance to do something really good,” Snitker said after Tuesday’s 3-1 victory. “Hopefully, this is Travis’ time.”
His numbers at the plate may regress, but if Travis can continue to make a positive impact defensively, you can easily see him creating a role for himself in the Braves outfield.