Braves claim Schafer from Astros

In Jordan Schafer, the Astros got a player with plenty of athleticism, but who could never seem to put it all together or stay on the field because of health reasons.

Schafer was claimed off waivers Thursday by the Braves, the team that traded him to Houston in the middle of the 2011 season as part of the Michael Bourn deal.

Schafer began last season as the Astros’ starting center fielder, but numerous injuries and a drop in production, as well as some concerns about his attitude, caused him to fall out of favor. He hit .211 with four homers, 27 stolen bases and 106 strikeouts in 313 at-bats with the Astros, but a shoulder injury limited him to 21 at-bats in the final two months.

The Astros have options in center field with Justin Maxwell, who can play all over the outfield, and rookie Brandon Barnes, who made his debut last year and made a handful of highlight reel catches in center. Waiver claim Che-Hsuan Lin can also play center field.

The subtractions of Schafer and infielder Matt Downs, who was designated for assignment earlier this week, and catcher Chris Snyder, whose option wasn’t picked up, and the addition of Lin put the 40-man roster at 37. That doesn’t include pitchers Kyle Weiland and Sergio Escalona, both of whom are on the 60-man disabled list.

Schafer was one of the top prospects for the Braves, who drafted him, four years ago before they sent him to Houston on July 31, 2011. In the deal, the Astros also received pitchers Brett Oberholtzer and Paul Clemens, both of whom reached Triple-A last year, and reliever Juan Abreu, who’s no longer in the organization.

Schafer was pulled from a game in July for what then manager Brad Mills described as “behavioral reasons” and was out of the lineup the following day. He was arrested last year and charged with possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia during a traffic stop. He entered a drug pre-trial interview program.

Considered a solid defensive player who can run, Schafer will have a chance to begin the 2013 season as one of Atlanta’s backup outfielders. His acquisition likely lessens the odds of Jose Constanza beginning next season with the Braves.

Schafer hit .228 with four home runs and a .616 OPS in the 132 games he combined to play for the Braves during the 2009 and ’11 seasons. He homered in the first at-bat of his career and tallied two home runs in his first three games. But Schafer was never the same after suffering a left wrist injury during the fourth game of his career.

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