Odds and ends from Braves camp: Friday
Tyler Pastornicky would not have received his first call to the Majors had Alex Gonzalez not aggravated his right calf the night before the Braves played their fateful regular season finale last year. Had Pastornicky not received that call, he would not have met Jack Wilson and gained the invitation to spend some time working out with Wilson at his California residence this offseason.
Had Wilson not extended that invitation, the Braves might be able to confidently project who will begin the season as their backup shortstop.
And if you’re worrying too much about who will serve as Atlanta’s backup shortstop for the first couple weeks of the season, well then that’s your problem.
Wilson strained his right calf while running sprints and working out with Pastornicky at his Camarillo, Calif. home on Tuesday. The veteran infielder arrived at Spring Training on crutches Friday. He will likely miss at least the first two weeks of April.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez mentioned Drew Sutton and Josh Wilson, a pair of non-roster invitees, as candidates. He also mentioned Andrelton Simmons. But that’s not certainly not going to happen.
There is no doubt that Simmons might be the most talented shortstop in camp. But the kid needs a few more months, and more likely at least one more season to develop.
Gonzalez did not mention Brandon Hicks’ name when discussing potential candidates. But given Hicks is already on the 40-man roster, he certainly has to be considered a candidate.
Pastornicky traveled to California last Saturday and worked out on a daily basis before flying back to Orlando on Thursday. He was able to take field grounders on Wilson’s regulation-sized infield, lift weights, take batting practice and do all of his conditioning drills.
In other words, he was able to do everything he would have been doing had he joined the many other Braves who had arrived to camp early.
Arodys Vizcaino might not be guaranteed a spot in the Braves bullpen to begin this season. But he’s definitely going to make it quite difficult on the club to send him back to the Minors. The 21-year-old hurler is still throwing his 95-mph heater and working to find consistency with his curveball. Brian McCann lost his bat as he swung through one of these curves during live batting practice Friday morning.
As Vizcaino walked away from the live BP session, he said he has been working to find some comfort with his changeup, a pitch he rarely threw last year. According to FanGraphs, he threw about seven with a span of 322 pitches at the Major League level.
If Vizcaino finds comfort with the changeup, there will be more reason to contemplate using him as a starting pitcher. But I’m sticking with my belief that he’ll stick to the relief role and find himself in a closer’s role somewhere down the road.
Tommy Hanson rode the stationary bike for 10 minutes this morning and did not pop the tire. Sorry, had to do it.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Hanson felt good and will likely increase his activity over the next couple of days. But it still sounds like it will be Monday before Hanson is cleared to simply return to the field.
There will certainly still be time for Hanson to be ready at the beginning of the season. But as I mentioned earlier this week, there is a possibility that his first turn will be skipped and he’ll make his season debut in the sixth game of the year against the Astros.
The Braves will hold their first full-squad workout Saturday. Because of physicals, Saturday and Sunday’s workout will start at 1 p.m. ET.
Follow me on Twitter @mlbbowman