Odds and ends from Braves camp: Friday
When the Braves near Opening Day, they’ll once again start hearing about last year’s miserable conclusion. But after spending the past five months fielding questions and being reminded about how everything suddenly went wrong last year, they are set to spend the next four weeks playing games and preparing for a season that they hope ends different than last year’s.
It won’t have the same feel as Opening Day and the nerves that are present throughout the regular season will likely be absent. But there will be a sense of anticipation when the Braves host the Tigers to open the Grapefruit League season on Saturday afternoon.
Mike Minor will be the first big league pitcher to throw a pitch to Prince Fielder wearing a Tigers uniform and Tyler Pastornicky will get a better feel for what he will experience when he becomes a Major Leaguer and Atlanta’s starting shortstop next month.
There will be plenty of story lines to follow over the next month as Jason Heyward and Martin Prado attempt to rebound from their frustration-filled 2011 seasons. Heyward’s struggles were influenced by a physical ailment (sore right shoulder) and the bad habits it created. Prado’s problems were enhanced once he developed a staph infection in June. But in a story that will run Sunday, he will explain how he was as messed up mentally as he was physically from the start of the season.
Gonzalez chose not to reveal which relievers will pitch Saturday. His choice. That’s all.
Anyhow, the other starting pitchers the first time through the rotation will be:
Julio Teheran/Randall Delgado @ Tigers Sunday
Jair Jurrjens vs. Astros Monday.
Kris Medlen vs. Nationals Tuesday.
Brandon Beachy @Tigers Wednesday
With Tim Hudson expected to miss at least the regular season’s first month as he recovers from back surgery, Delgado and Teheran are battling for the rotation’s last spot. Their second turn through the rotation falls on March 9, when the Braves are scheduled to play the Yankees and Mets in split-squad games.
Tommy Hanson will likely make his exhibition season debut on March 11, when he will piggyback with Medlen.
Freddie Freeman jogged around the field once today without any problems. His steady progress leads me to believe he will miss closer to a one week than two.
Gonzalez plans to use the designated hitter every game through March 18. Matt Diaz will serve in that role on Saturday.