Bullpen auditions at Disney

Welcome back to Disney where a number of fans have chosen to wear green for this afternoon’s split-squad game against the Blue Jays.  Who knew this many people would jump on that Norfolk State bandwagon so soon?

Speaking of the NCAA tourney, one of Chipper Jones’ brackets was unblemished through the 16 games played on Thursday.   He was 8-8 with the Friday selections made on that bracket.  Figured I’d throw this out there since it had been at least five months since we’ve mentioned anything that could be related to the hot-hand fallacy.

Speaking of Jose Constanza, he is batting ninth and playing left field in today’s game against the Blue Jays.  With Opening Day less than three weeks away, it appears Constanza could be competing with fellow speedster Luis Durango and Jordan Parraz for one of the last available roster spots.   Parraz will play right field in today’s game at Disney and Durango will play center field in the split squad game against the Mets at Port St. Lucie.

As slap hitters with speed, Constanza and Durango both provide essentially the same thing offensively.  Defensively, Durango has the better arm and a little better range. Parraz is more multi-dimensional from an offensive perspective and  has the ability to play all three positions (despite what you might have seen with that long fly ball hit to center on Friday night).

Some of the Opening Day roster decisions will center around the status of Jack Wilson, who has not experienced any discomfort in his right calf over the past week.  Wilson believes he will be healthy enough to avoid beginning the season on the disabled list.  In fact, he hopes to begin compiling plate appearances in Minor League games next week.

But when asked about Wilson’s status late Friday night, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez indicated the plan is to continue showing caution until the medical staff is confident the veteran infielder will not aggravate the calf strain like he did when he missed two months during the 2008 season.

If Wilson begins the season on the disabled list, Drew Sutton will likely begin the year as Atlanta’s utility infielder.

Brandon Beachy will be looking to show better command when he starts against the Blue Jays this afternoon.  The right-hander issued five walks against the Cardinals on Monday and has issued a total of seven through his first five innings of the exhibition season.   He also combined for nine walks in the 10 1/3 innings that encompassed his final two starts of the 2011 season.

After Beachy exits, Adam Russell, Cory Gearrin and Anthony Varvaro will continue to audition for one of the final bullpen spots.  Cristhian Martinez will attempt to strengthen his projected spot on the Opening Day roster when he also pitches in relief against the Blue Jays today.

Even if Arodys Vizcaino can once again avoid Tommy John surgery, he obviously will not be ready for the start of the regular season.

The projected Opening Day bullpen currently consists of  Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Eric O’Flaherty, Kris Medlen and Martinez.  The leading candidates for the final two spots are Jairo Asencio (out of options), Gearrin (if he can provide confidence he can handle left-handed hitters), Varvaro and Russell.

Medlen will start this afternoon’s split-squad game against the Mets in Port St. Lucie.  Sean Gilmartin is also scheduled to appear in that game.  Gilmartin has impressed teammates during his first big league camp.

TODAY’S LINEUPS

vs. Blue Jays

Bourn 8

Pastornicky 6

McCann DH

Uggla 4

Chipper 5

Hinske 3

Parraz 9

Bethancourt 2

Constanza 7

 

@Mets (no designated hitter)

Simmons 6

Prado 5

Heyward 9

Freeman 3

Diaz 7

Ross 2

Sutton 4

Durango 8

Medlen 1

 

 

 

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