Soriano willingly speaks

Santonio Holmes meet#CF3FA7.jpgWhen Steelers wide receiver Santonio Holmes toe-tapped his way toward Super Bowl MVP honors and then proclaimed he was going to Disney World, he wasn’t lying.  In fact, he and his magical right foot are still here.

Holmes has been training here at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex and he took time on Friday morning to come over to the baseball stadium and enjoy a photo opportunity with a former childhood favorite Chipper Jones, who happens to be a big Steelers fan. 

With Jones wearing Holmes’  Steelers jersey and Holmes sporting Jones’  Braves jersey, the two athletes, who both wear No. 10, posed for a few pictures with Mickey Mouse. 

Jones walked away with a signed football and Holmes gained a baseball signed by Jones. 

Growing up in Florida, Holmes adopted the Braves as his favorite team and chose Jones as his favorite player, primarily because of the fact that he was a switch hitter.

“One of the main reasons I liked him was the ability to switch sides,” Holmes said. “That’s amazing for somebody to be able to do that and have the great hand-eye coordination with his swing lefty and righty and have the ability to hit home runs.  That’s amazing.” 

Yeah, but could Jones go into the corner of the endzone and possess the grace of a ballerina dancer while hauling in the game-winning catch with 35 seconds left in the Super Bowl? 

Speaking of amazing, something must have happened to Rafael Soriano overnight.  After completing a phone conversation on Friday morning, he actually called me and Dave O’Brien over to his locker to discuss the discomfort that he’s been feeling in his left side. 

Maybe it had something to do with the fact that we were hovering over him in an otherwise empty locker room.  But the conversation was actually cordial and it seems like he believes he might start throwing again within the next few days.   I’ll believe it when I see it.  But it appears he might indeed be in the bullpen to begin the season. 

Who is standing in center field on Opening Night in Philadelphia remains a mystery.  Jordan Schafer has done everything he can to prove that he’s ready to compete at the Major League level.  The five-tool outfielder is a difference maker who will be a fan favorite in Atlanta for many years to come. 

But there’s still reason to believe the Braves might choose to send him to Triple-A Gwinnett to begin the season.  I started to buy into this possibility after a scout reminded me Thursday night that it’s much easier to bring a player up than it is to send him down. 

If Schafer were to begin the season and struggle to the point that the Braves felt the need to send him back to the Minors, there’s a chance the decision could produce psychological damage that would be felt beyond this year. 

While understanding this theory, I don’t think it applies to the ever-confident Schafer.  First of all, I don’t think he’d encounter enormous struggles at the Major League level and if he did, I don’t think it would damage him.

It was obviously a shame that he was forced to pay for his youthful transgressions with the humiliating 50-game suspension that he was handed last year.  But the episode improved his mental strength and allowed him to mature more over the course of a year than I could have ever imagined. 

Gregor Blanco is starting today’s game against the Tigers in center and I’m now at least buying into the possibility that he might be manning that position at the beginning of the season. 

The Braves are exploring the option of trading Josh Anderson, who is out of options, and if they’re able to strike a deal with a team that’s looking for a speedy outfielder, Blanco might be the most sensical option from a business standpoint.

The White Sox are among the teams looking for an outfielder like Anderson.  But manager Ozzie Guillen has said he doesn’t expect the team to looking outside the organization for a center fielder.  We’ll see if this proves to be true.
Blanco spent the entire 2008 season in the Majors and people are still buzzing about the way he played during the World Baseball Classic.  If the Braves were to send him to the Minors to begin the season, his trade value would plummet and more importantly, he’s somebody who certainly could be psychologically damaged by such a move. 

OK. Tom Glavine is about to take the mound for his second Grapefruit League start. 

You can view today’s game on MLB.TV or SportSouth, for those of you who still watch baseball on television.

A couple more notes:

Bobby Cox says that Garret Anderson probably won’t return to the lineup until Sunday.  Earlier this week, the Braves said he’d come back on Saturday. 

Because he was feeling ill again on Friday, the Braves sent Casey Kotchman to be examined by a doctor.  Kotchman has battled the flu most of the past week.  He said he felt good on Wednesday and then started feeling sick again on Thursday.

Today’s Lineup:

Gregor Blanco CF
Kelly Johnson 2B
Chipper Jones 3B
Brian McCann C
Jeff Francoeur RF
Omar Infante SS
Martin Prado 1B
Josh Anderson LF
Tom Glavine P


Here’s a pretty good article on the different types of waivers:

One inning, no hits. Glavine should be our closer.

just kidding.

It looks like we’re actually facing Major League competition today.

Yeah, this is a solid Tigers lineup and Glavine has taken care of Magglio, Cabrera and Co. with two scoreless innings. His velocity has improved much since Saturday. But right now, he’s showing you can get outs while throwing 80 mph. How long you can do so, remains to be seen.

Keep us updated of his velocity as the game progresses. It will be interesting to see how deep he can go.

During the scoreless third, his fastball still rested between 78-80 and he mixed in a changeups and curves that registered 71 and 64 mph.

This is a Glavine’s type of opponent. None of them usually take any pitches at all.

How many pitches does Glavine have through the first three innings?

I doubt he’ll come out for the 4th. He is a month behind the other guys right now.

You’re right Rother. 38 pitches through three innings

But it does look like he’ll pitch the fourth…No action in the bullpen.

I guess Verlander is not looking too shabby for the Kittens.

Nice play Norton!

Verlander looks real good…He’s hit 97 with a couple of fastballs and it looks like he might have regained his 2007 form…Glavine ended up recording three strikeouts in four scoreless innings…Campillo is pitching now and Bennett will take the mound later to attempt to recreate the trade value he possessed two weeks ago.

Good thing Verlander is back. Would he count as a Comeback player of the year? I have him and Frenchy at that, but I’m not sure if they really count or not since they never really came off of any injury, they just sucked bad after a great 2007 season.

Yay. The irish man O’Flarhety is in there. Fingers crossed.

Great inning by O’Flaherty. 2 K’s and a groundball.

Mark, or anyone else, when we will begin to see these guys in regular season specific situations? Like when we will we see O’Flarhety and Logan coming in to get left handers out? Do they do that in spring?

Acosta allowed a big home run. Tigers-2 Braves -0

In his no-hitter Verlander hit 102 on the gun in the 8th inning.

He also hit 101 on the last pitch of the no-hitter.

Verlander could be a dark horse AL Cy Young candidate. I mean, the AL isn’t that strong with Cy Young candidates this year. Halladay and Sabathia both play in the AL East, Lackey is hurt, and we don’t know how well Beckett will do. Liriano and Verlander are good “sleeper” picks for the Cy Young.

Please keep the mentions of the squeelers to a minimum. They make me want to puke.Russ

Yay! Bennett allowed no runs. Is he traded yet?


Great hit by Norton. It’s tied up now.

You must really want Bennett to leave Bravenorth

Not gonna lie, when we got Norton last year I thought it was a lame pickup, but that guys bat is really impressive in the role we have him in.

I’m actually a Bennett fan to be honest – but I think he will be traded, and I would like for it to happen when he’s worth something.

Nice game for Anderson by the way

Brandon Lyon sucks. Terrible signing by Dave Dombrowski. But hey, we’re used to terrible work from him.

well, we should have won yesterday, and the Tigers probably should have today. It all works out.

they should have considering how well Verlander pitched, that is.

Glavine was thrilled with his outing against this strong lineup. He essentially said that he can win with the stuff and location that he displayed today…that was a big rebound effort for O’Flaherty. Cox said, “He rose to the occasion.”…It was also good to see Bennett get two groundball outs. The primary reason scouts covet him is because of his ability to throw that sinker that has been absent much of this Spring.

Guys – headed to Vegas tomorrow for a few days (1 year anniversary). I’m planning on making my way down to the sports book. I started a tradition last year of making a small wager on the Braves. (obviously lost last year).

Here’s my dilemma – Do I go with my heart and deem them NL East Champs? Do I take less of a risk and place a bet for the NL Wildcard? Do I go crazy and bet the NL Champs? Either way the odds will be stacked against them. They will fly under EVERYONE’S radar!

btw… last year I came within a second of putting $10 on the Rays to win the AL East. With the odds given to them last year I would have walked out with a couple grand! I’ve been kicking myself ever since.

What do you guys think?

I’d go with NL East Champs.

I say wild card. NL East Champs is kinda pushing it. I would bet on the Mets winning. I think the Yankees will win the East as well with Boston winning the Wildcard.

I believe the wild card will come out of the East and I believe who ever is in contention for the wild will also be in contention for the division and will come down to the wire.
Good to see J. Anderson showing that he isn’t going to lay down and let anyone that wants the CF take it.

My thoughts on the NL East final standings from my Q&A with Macho-Row:

Q: Tell us why the Braves won’t make the playoffs.

A:There’s a few things I believe are certain about the NL East.

1. The wild card team will come from the NL East
2. There’s a 3-way race for the top 2 spots between the Mets, Phillies, and Braves
3. Whoever sustains the most injuries of those 3 will not be playing in October.

I think that if the Braves don’t make the playoffs it’ll be because they sustained more injuries than the Mets or Phillies. The projection systems all have the Braves, Mets, and Phillies right in the same conversation. If we wake up tomorrow and Chipper’s broken his leg, Vazquez needs Tommy John, and Peter Moylan tore another ligament, we’re immediately out of the conversation. The same could be said about a homologous trio for the Mets or Phillies.

What I like about the Braves’ chances is they have depth such that I don’t think there’s an irreplaceable piece on the club (apart from Chipper’s 110 games). Whereas if the Mets lost Johan Santana they’d immediately be in panic mode and if the Phillies lost Cole Hamels their playoff hopes are significantly diminished. If every team stays completely healthy (an impossible scenario), we’d be kept out of the playoffs due to a lack of run-production from our outfield, though.

PWHjort, I couldn’t of said it better myself.

I agree with that whole conversation… especially the run production issue from the outfield.

Not bad, but consider this, Cole Hamels was 14-10 last season, and they won. He wasn’t the reason that Philly got in the playoffs, the Ancient Mariner was. This season it is really hard to imagine Moyer pulling that off again. It is also hard to think that Hamels will only win 14 again this year, so it is probably a wash. The more I look at this season, the more I think Philly comes in third. Their pitching staff is a house of cards.
The Mets on the other hand look really good, which kind of just sucks.

Due to potential inclement weather, the Braves have canceled the Open House that was scheduled at Turner Field today.

Due to potential inclement weather, the Braves have canceled the Open House that was scheduled at Turner Field today.

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