Soriano willingly speaks
When 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.
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