HOUSTON — Jordan Schafer is heading back to Atlanta, and the outfielder couldn't be happier about rejoining the big league organization where he started his big league career.
Schafer was reacquired by the Braves on Thursday when they claimed him off waivers from the Houston Astros.
"I'm excited to go back," Schafer said during an interview with The Associated Press. "It's the first team that gave me an opportunity to play professional baseball, the first team to give me an opportunity to play in the big leagues. I still have a lot of friends over there and people I talk to, and I've lived there for a while."
Schafer, who hit .211 with 27 stolen bases in 106 games for the Astros in an injury-plagued season, spent 6½ years in the Braves' organization before he was dealt to Houston in July 2011.
He is eager to put this season behind him and bounce back in 2013.
"I've got to get back on track mentally more than physically," he said. "I mean physically, I think everybody knows that my skills and my tools are there. It's just I need to take care of mentally being in the right mind frame and having a positive attitude and being a good clubhouse guy and all that kind of stuff."
He was part of the trade that brought center fielder and leadoff hitter Michael Bourn to Atlanta before the 2011 trade deadline.
Bourn hit .311 in the first half of the season before slumping to .225 after the All-Star break. He struck out a career-high 155 times in 155 games.
Schafer stole a combined 22 bases for the Braves and Astros in 2011, but he was arrested the following October in Tampa, Fla., on a felony possession of marijuana.
He won Atlanta's starting job in center field as a 22-year-old in 2009 despite having never played above Double-A. He was suspended for the first 50 games of 2008 for a human growth hormone violation of minor league baseball's drug policy.
Bourn, who stole 42 bases for the Braves last year, is expected to draw considerable interest from other teams as a free agent.
Schafer is looking forward to playing for a team coming off a trip to the playoffs.
"They were a playoff team last year and obviously the whole goal of playing 162 games is to make the playoffs and to try to win a World Series," he said. "So I'm super excited about going back and joining a playoff team there, and I'm just going to go there to try to do the little things to help them win."
Although he had a tough year in Houston, where the Astros lost a franchise-record 107 games, leaving the team is somewhat bittersweet.
"I'm sad in some instances because I made some friends in Houston and there's some good people there and I'll miss some of that stuff," Schafer said.
"But ... they decided to go in a different direction in Houston, and I'm happy the Braves gave me an opportunity again."
Atlanta is not exercising a $7 million option on third baseman Chipper Jones, who retired after the season-ending loss to St. Louis in the NL wild-card game. The Braves also said catcher J.C. Boscan and pitchers Erik Cordier and Robert Fish were sent outright to the minors and that Boscan refused the assignment and elected free agency.