ATLANTA — Nerves were no problem for Jordan Schafer before the Atlanta Braves’ home opener Friday night.In fact, Schafer says he’s never been nervous on a baseball field.
Schafer proved his point when he hit a home run in his first major league at-bat on Sunday night at Philadelphia. He added another homer in the series and was hitting .300 after his first three games.
"Truthfully, I don’t think I’ve ever been nervous," Schafer said Friday. "Even my first at-bat, I wasn’t nervous. I was really just trying to go up there and have a good approach. As long as I go up there and just try to compete and have fun, I should have fun."
Schafer said he couldn’t explain why he never feels jitters before a baseball game, even in his major league debut or home opener.
"I truthfully don’t know," he said. "I’ve never been nervous on a baseball field. You always just try to focus in and get a job done."
So what would make the center fielder nervous?
"If I had to go to war and be in the Army, then I’d be nervous," he said.
"Those guys have something to really be nervous about. Playing a game, you don’t have much pressure on you. You shouldn’t be nervous."
Schafer said he knows "a couple of people" in the military.
"That’s way beyond what we do here," he said.
Schafer may hit as high as No. 1 in manager Bobby Cox’s lineup later this season, but he was still in the No. 8 spot in Friday night’s home opener against Washington.
Schafer, who has good speed, was a leadoff hitter through most of his career in the minor leagues. Kelly Johnson hit leadoff on Friday night.
Schafer may not have normal rookie jitters, but he knows enough to not complain about his spot in Cox’s lineup.
"No, I’m not concerned about that," he said. "It’s only three games into the season. I don’t care if I hit one or eight. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m just happy to be here and trying to contribute to the team winning."
When the Braves played two exhibition games against Detroit last week, Schafer wore No. 64 and had a locker at the end of the clubhouse.
When the Braves returned on Friday, Schafer wore No. 24 and had a spot in the main area of the clubhouse where other regulars and veterans are stationed.
"It’s nice not to be wearing No. 64 anymore, that’s for sure," he said.
Schafer became the first Braves player to make his major league debut as an opening-day starter since 1981, when Rufino Linares opened the season as the team’s starter in left field.
Honor for Van Wieren
Former longtime Braves broadcaster Pete Van Wieren threw out the ceremonial first pitch and was honored before the game. Van Wieren, who was inducted into the Braves Hall of Fame in 2004, retired last year after 33 seasons calling Braves games. The Braves announced they have named their radio booth at Turner Field for Van Wieren, who was given a commemorative Braves silver microphone by team president John Schuerholz. Schuerholz also surprised Van Wieren with two tickets for trips anywhere in the world.
Van Wieren, often called "The Professor," was the longtime broadcast partner for Skip Caray. Van Wieren announced his retirement shortly after Caray’s death last year.
"If anything, it reinforced my decision," Van Wieren said. "I didn’t want to keep working until I couldn’t do it anymore."
Hanson shines for Gwinnett
Tommy Hanson, the Braves’ top pitching prospect, had 10 strikeouts in 4 1-3 scoreless innings to lead the new Triple-A Gwinnett Braves to a 9-1 win at Charlotte on Thursday.
Hanson gave up three hits and walked two batters. It was Gwinnett’s first game.
Right-hander Kris Medlen had four strikeouts in 3 Ã innings to earn the win.
There was a moment of silence before the game in memory of former Los Angeles Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart, who was killed in a car crash early Thursday. The stadium flag flew at half-staff. ... Right-hander Kenshin Kawakami is set to make his major league debut for Atlanta in tonight’s game against the Nationals.