Braves star prospect took the juice

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Somewhere in the first chapter of “Baseball for Dummies: Professional Edition” there’s got to be a few pages about what to do when you’re the No. 1 prospect for a major league club.

Something like this: Go to Spring Training in The Bigs, impress future teammates and manager, get big league manager to say he’d put you on the roster right now even though you’ve never played ball above Class A, convince a club to hire a one-year temp to hold your spot while you develop and don’t juice.

It’s the last item on the list that tripped up Jordan Schafer, the 21-year-old, 6-foot, 200-pound sizzling center field prospect for the Atlanta Braves. He so impressed Braves skipper Bobby Cox and other team brass last year that they felt comfortable dumping Andruw Jones in the off-season and hiring Mark Kotsay to fill-in for a year until Schafer’s ready for the spot.

During Spring Training this year, Cox told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he’d take Schafer right now.

This spring with the Braves, Schafer hit .316 (12-for-38) with four doubles, six RBIs, a team-high three sacrifice flies and a .421 on-base percentage.

When Schafer was cut March 22, Cox said he would be comfortable with him in center field now, despite his lack of experience above Class A before this season.

“He’s a good-looking player,” Cox said. “If anything happens to [Mark] Kotsay, he’d be back in the mix.”

Trouble is, the future Braves eye candy was taking the juice. On Tuesday, Major League Baseball officials suspended him for 50 games for use of human growth hormone (HGH) in violation of baseball’s drug policy. Now that he’s got lots of free time, Schafer should pick up “Baseball for Dummies” and brush up on how to put his career back on track.

It’s sad to see him self-destruct and share company with John Rocker, another hottie (and former) Brave who took the juice. But flash that gorgeous smile and let the breeze blow through those wavy brown locks and we might forgive. Maybe.

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