Braves still not ready to announce Opening Day starter
It’s starting to look like Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez might not have been playing when he has said he wants to be the last Major League manager to announce his Opening Day starting pitcher. With eight days remaining before the start of the regular season, we’re still left to guess whether it will be Jair Jurrjens or Tommy Hanson.
Courtesy of their decision not to pitch one of their projected starters against the Mets on Tuesday, the Braves have already set up today’s starter Brandon Beachy, Mike Minor and Randall Delgado to make their next start with an extra day of rest.
When Jurrjens faces the split-squad Astros team in Kissimmee on Friday night, he will be on regular rest. The same will go for Hanson when he pitches against the potent Tigers lineup on Saturday.
This arrangement puts Hanson in line up to make the April 5 Opening Day start on regular rest. But it also creates reason to wonder when Jurrjens might make his debut. If Jurrjens were to pitch the second game of the year, he would do so with three extra days of rest.
So maybe the Braves are thinking about having Jurrjens make one more exhibition start in a Minor League setting before making his regular season debut during the Astros series (April 9-11).
Or maybe Jurrjens will be the Opening Day starter. He would be doing so with the one extra day of rest that pitching coach Roger McDowell likes to provide his starters before the start of the season.
But this arrangement would also mean Hanson would pitch the second game of the year with two extra days of rest.
So with eight days before the start of the regular season, your guess is as good as mine. But because I’m stubborn, I’m going to continue to guess Jurrjens will get the nod.
Jonny Venters will return to the mound during Thursday’s game against the Nationals in Viera. This will be his first appearance since some upper arm discomfort led the Braves to shut him down after his March 18 outing against the Orioles. The left-handed reliever was encouraged by a 25-pitch side session he completed on Tuesday.
Today marks the 15th anniversary of the Braves training at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex. The first game was played between the Braves and Reds on March 28, 1997. Fred McGriff hit the first home run and Deion Sanders (then of the Reds) recorded the first hit, stolen base and run.