ATLANTA - SEPTEMBER 27: Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves watches the action late in the game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Turner Field on September 27, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Braves Spring Training: Atlanta Finalizes Roster, Ready To Begin Season

Major League Baseball is happening, as the Atlanta Braves have begun spring training. It's pretty much summer now!

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Atlanta Braves Sign Reliever Chad Durbin

According to SB Nation's Atlanta Braves blog, Talking Chop, the Braves have added veteran right-handed reliever Chad Durbin to their roster. Durbin was released by the Washington Nationals earlier this week and over the past 12 years, he has spent time with the Phillies, Diamondbacks, Tigers and Royals.

The guys at Talking Chop seem to be pretty high on the move:

Decent pick up, he's probably south of the Linebrink line, but has traditionally been a serviceable reliever. He was with the Phillies during three of their postseason runs from 2008 to 2010, and appeared in all three postseasons and both of their World Series appearances during that time.

Durbin is 34 years old and in his 12-year career, he has played in 364 games, starting in 75, allowing 430 earned runs, giving up 110 home runs, walking 328 but striking out 512. He has a record of 38-46 and he has a career ERA of 5.10 with a WHIP of 1.51.

For more on the Braves, head to Talking Chop, and for more spring training updates, follow SB Nation Atlanta's StoryStream.

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Tim Hudson Shines In Spring Training Debut

Tim Hudson, who underwent back surgery last November, made his spring training debut on Monday and was sensational, throwing two innings of work and allowing just one hit.

Hudson threw 25 pitches in total, 16 of which were strikes, and the right hander was feeling good afterwards, "It felt normal. Honestly, I went out there and tried to pitch like I was in a real game. I was trying to make pitches and get some swings and misses. I wasn't really trying to finesse around anything. At this point, I need to see where I'm at. And so far, so good."

Hudson remains on track to make his regular season debut in late April or early May, and is expected to continue to add an inning of work in each of his upcoming starts.

Manager Fredi Gonzalez was encouraged by his outing, "He mixed all his pitches. I'm sure he probably didn't think he was as sharp as he should have been, but I thought he was. For the first time in a while, and getting out there in front of a crowd, it was good. I was happy for him."

For more on the Braves, head on over to Talking Chop and make sure to go check out Baseball Nation for even more MLB coverage.


Atlanta Braves Finalize Roster, Tyler Pastornicky Selected As Starting Shortstop

Pastornicky, Randall Delgado, Jose Constanza and others received some great news on Monday.


Cristhian Martinez Arrested: Reliever Charged With DUI

Martinez was arrested early Monday morning in Gwinnett County on several charges


Braves Spring Training 2012 Grapefruit League Schedule: Two Games Left Before Opening Day

The Atlanta Braves will wrap up their spring training schedule this week with a game against the New York Mets on Monday and against their own top minor league players on Tuesday.

Billed as Braves All-Stars vs. Braves Future Stars, the game on Tuesday is of particular interest because the team's former big league skipper Bobby Cox will manage the minor leaguers.

Monday's game against the Mets will give the newest Brave, third baseman Juan Francisco, a chance to get acquainted with his new club before the season begins. Atlanta acquired Francisco from the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday for minor league pitcher J.J. Hoover. Francisco will be used to fill in at third base while Chipper Jones recovers from last week's arthroscopic knee surgery.

On Thursday the Braves will face the Mets again for Opening Day.

For more on the Braves, head on over to Talking Chop and make sure to go check out Baseball Nation for even more MLB coverage.


Atlanta Braves Tie Phillies 7-7 After Late Rally In Ninth

The Atlanta Braves played their second-to-last Spring Training game of the exhibition season on Sunday afternoon against the Philadelphia Phillies. Despite a not-so-stellar pitching performance from Julio Teheran -- he allowed five runs (four earned) on three hits and two walks -- the club rallied late to claim a 7-7 tie.

Tyler Pastornicky continued to look comfortable at the plate and went 1-for-2 with three walks. Jason Heyward roped out a single in his lone at-bat, and the trio of Freddie Freeman, Matt Diaz and Eric Hinske all doubled. Josh Wilson hit his first homer of the spring in the ninth.

The afore mentioned Teheran struggled mightily in the fourth inning, but he allowed just one hit and one walk up to that point. He was squeezed badly by the home plate umpire with Jim Thome at the plate, which eventually led to back-to-back walks and a double. Johan Flande, who is set to earn the final spot in the bullpen, allowed three hits and walked two batters in relief of Teheran.

Jonny Venters and Cory Gearrin both worked scoreless innings of relief, and neither Dustin Hughes nor Adam Russell allowed a base runner to reach in the eighth or ninth innings.

The Braves will face the Mets on Monday at noon. It is the final Spring Training game of the year.


Trade: Atlanta Braves Acquire 3B Juan Francisco From The Cincinnati Reds

With Chipper Jones ailing and the depth of the Atlanta Braves roster looking a bit thin for the 2012 season, the Braves management made a move to help manager Fredi Gonzalez out a bit. The Braves have made a trade with the Cincinnati Reds for third baseman Juan Francisco. In return, the Braves will send back right-hander J.J. Hoover. This report coming from a Braves press release this weekend.

Francisco, 24, has been a power hitting prospect within the Reds organization for quite some time. However, his inability to secede Scott Rolen for the starting spot in Cincinnati has made him expendable. Given the Braves need for depth in both the infield and outfield, Francisco could provide some relief for Jones.

Given this move, this should also settle Martin Prado to start the season in the outfield instead of third base.

Hoover, 24, will report to the Reds' Triple-A affiliate in Louisville.

For more on the Braves, head on over to Talking Chop and make sure to go check out Baseball Nation for even more MLB coverage.


MLB Opening Day 2012: Braves Set To Open Against Mets In New York

Opening Day is nearly upon us, and the Atlanta Braves are set to open the season on the road in New York against the Mets, which is in a way fitting in Chipper Jones' final season with the Braves.

Tommy Hanson draws the Opening Day start for the Braves on Thursday, April 5 at 1:10 p.m. Hanson was limited to just 130 innings in 2011, going 11-7 with a 3.60 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. Hanson suffered a shoulder injury last year, but he is fully healthy to begin 2012 and consequently drew the Opening Day start.

After a three game set against the Mets, the Braves head to Houston to take on the lowly Astros.

Atlanta won't open up at home until Friday, April 13 against the defending National League Central champion Milwaukee Brewers.

For more on the Atlanta Braves, be sure to head over to Talking Chop and join the discussion.


Spring Training 2012: Braves Fall 2-1 To Tigers In Rain Shortened Game

Saturday's matchup between the Atlanta Braves and Detroit Tigers was a pitchers duel that lasted only six innings due to rain, and also a 2-1 loss for the Braves.

Both Justin Verlander and Tommy Hanson pitched six innings today with Verlander striking out five and allowing four hits while Hanson allowed five hits, two runs and struck out one batter. This was Hanson's last spring training start before he takes the mound on opening day next week.

The Braves trailed the game after the top of the first when the Tigers scored a run when Miguel Cabrera knocked in Austin Jackson. In the bottom of the fourth the Braves tied the game when Dan Uggla had an RBI and sent home Freddie Freeman to tie the game at one apiece. The game winning score came in the top of the fifth inning when Clete Thomas hit a solo home run off of Hanson.

For more on the Braves, head on over to Talking Chop and make sure to go check out Baseball Nation for even more MLB coverage.

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Atlanta Braves Set Tentative Starting Rotation, Tommy Hanson To Start Opening Day

The Atlanta Braves are yet to announce their official starting rotation order for the 2012 season, but everything is starting to take shape from Spring Training camp. News came on Saturday morning that Tommy Hanson would be the Opening Day starter against the Mets, and he would be followed by Jair Jurrjens, who would then be in line to make pitch in the home opener on April 13.

Fredi Gonzalez has also hinted that Mike Minor will start in the opening series of the season, likely meaning he will take the mound on Sunday, April 8 in New York.

As for Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado, whichever pitcher earns the No. 5 spot in the rotation will start either April 10 or 11 against the Astros. The club has an off-day on the 6th, meaning Gonzalez could potentially skip one of their starts for a day and let Hanson pitch another game before handing the ball to one of his young prospects.

Your other likely starters for the home opening series against the Brewers: Minor and Beachy.

Again, none of this is official other than Hanson and Jurrjens starting the first two games of the season, but this looks like the rotation to begin the year.

As for Tim Hudson, the veteran is aiming for a return in the final week of April against the Pirates. He is currently recovering from back surgery.

For more on the Braves, head on over to Talking Chop.


Livan Hernandez To Atlanta Braves: Former World Series MVP Signs, According To Report

The Atlanta Braves are signing 37-year-old right-handed pitcher Livan Hernandez, who was just released by the Houston Astros after signing a minor league deal with the club in January.

Hernandez will certainly bring extra experience to the Braves roster, since Hernandez is a 16-year veteran who won the 1997 NLCS and World Series MVP awards with the Florida Marlins.

He spent last season with the Washington Nationals where had an 8-13 record with a 4.47 ERA in 29 starts. While Hernandez is a two-time All-Star, he he hasn't had a winning season since 2008, when he was 13-11 and split the year between the Minnesota Twins and Colorado Rockies.

Heyman also made the interesting point of Hernandez not being able to stick in Houston, but managing to find an even better situation.

Read more about the Braves at Talking Chop.


Jason Heyward Homers Again, Atlanta Braves Fall To Nationals 6-3

Jason Heyward struggled in the early going of Spring Training, but it appears the young outfielder is finally finding his swing at the right time. After hitting a game-tying opposite field shot on Wednesday, Heyward, who made the start in center field, hit a bomb over the batter's eye in center field against the Nationals. Those in attendance said the shot went approximately 450 feet, which would rank among his deepest home runs of his career thus far.

Despite Heyward's strong performance, the Braves fell to the Nationals by a score of 6-3.

Mike Minor worked five scoreless innings, but poor defense and a few walks got him into trouble in the sixth. The lefty exited the game in favor of Cory Gearrin with two on and no out, and a walk and bases-clearing triple left Minor on the hook for two more runs, leaving him with four for the afternoon. Despite the rough start, his ERA for Spring Training is still just 2.25.

In a bit of good news, Jonny Venters made his first in-game appearance since a sore elbow had bothered him earlier in the month. He worked a perfect inning and needed just 10 pitches to do so.

Martin Prado drove in a late run with an RBI-single, and Dan Uggla continued to mash by hitting a double. His average for the spring is now .306.

The loss drops Atlanta to 9-15 in Spring Training. They will next face the Houston Astros on Friday evening at 6:05 p.m. EDT.


Braves Trade Rumors: Atlanta Reportedly Interested In Nationals Outfielder Xavier Nady

According to's Braves beat writer Mark Bowman, the Atlanta Braves are expressing interest in Washington Nationals outfielder Xavier Nady and that he could be the right-handed bat that they have been looking for.

#Braves have expressed interest in Nationals outfielder Xavier Nady. Could be the RH bat they have been seeking. 4 hours ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® · Reply · Retweet · Favorite · powered by @socialditto

In 2011 for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Nady started 82 games, scoring 26 runs on 51 hits and four home runs. He had a .248 batting average. In his career, Nady has scored 349 runs, hit 97 home runs and has a career batting average of .275.

SB Nation's Braves site, Talking Chop, isn't really buying the fact that the team's interested in acquiring Nady.

Nady is currently with the Washington Nationals, having signed a minor league deal with them only 10 days ago. So if the Braves really wanted him they could have signed him at the beginning of spring training. Even though the injury to Chipper Jones had not happened yet, the Braves chose not to protect themselves by signing a guy like Nady. And now they might want to trade for him? Doesn't make much sense to me.

For more on the Braves, head to Talking Chop, and for more spring training updates, follow SB Nation Atlanta's StoryStream.

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Braves Trade Jairo Asencio To Cleveland Indians For Cash

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's David O'Brien, the Atlanta Braves traded Jairo Asencio, formerly known as Luis Valdez, to the Cleveland Indians for cash. The reasoning for the trade is because Asencio is out of minor league options and if they didn't trade him, they likely would have lost him on waivers and not gotten anything for him.

What's more is that this move likely opens the door for Yohan Flande, who, according to Talking Chop, has had a great spring so far, to take a spot in the bullpen. Braves general manager Frank Wren said that Asencio is a one-inning pitcher and the team needed to make room for a pitcher that can stay in the game for a longer period of time.

"He’s always been a one-inning pitcher," Braves general manager Frank Wren said, "and the [bullpen] role we envision needing to make a decision on is a multi-inning guy who can give you two or three innings at a time. That’s not something he’s ever done, so we were coming to the end with him being out of options and we looked to make a deal."

In his 10 spring training appearances, Asencio had an ERA of 3.27, allowing 13 hits, four runs, three walks and 12 strikeouts.

For more on the Braves, head to Talking Chop and for more news on the team's spring training, follow SB Nation Atlanta's StoryStream.

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Braves Spring Training: Brandon Beachy Sharp In 5-5 Tie With Yankees

Brandon Beachy allowed six hits and two earned runs over six innings of work as the Atlanta Braves and the New York Yankees battled to a 5-5 tie in Wednesday's spring training matchup. Beachy is focusing on trying to pitch deeper into games and settled down after some early struggles against the Yankees.

Beachy surrendered one run in the first and two more in the third but retired nine straight over his last three innings of work. One of his goals for the season is to improve his stamina in an effort to go deeper into games.

"I've been going through all spring like it was a long bullpen session, then everything started to come together. I got ahead and I am ready to go now. I learned a lot today."

Offensively both Freddie Freeman and Jason Heyward homered for the Braves and Heyward's tied the game in the ninth. Heyward increased his batting average to .205 on the spring with a couple of hits.

For more on the Braves be sure to check out Talking Chop.


Atlanta Braves Acquire OF Christian Marrero From The Chicago White Sox

The Atlanta Braves agreed to send cash considerations to the Chicago White Sox in return for minor-league outfielder Christian Marrero on Wednesday:

This is the second such deal between the two teams in as many seasons, as Atlanta acquired Stefan Gartrell from Chicago in a similar trade in 2011.

Marrero, a 6'1 185 outfielder from Miami, was originally drafted by the Braves in 20th round of the 2004 draft before joining the White Sox after being drafted in the 22nd round of the 2005 draft.

The 25 year old, who has spent his entire career in the Chicago organization, has played mostly in Double-AA Birmingham for most of the last three seasons. In 2011, he hit .293/.385/.476 with 12 HR's while splitting time between 1B, RF and LF.

However, his offensive production has not been able to off-set his defensive ability, which is considered marginal, so the Braves were able to take a flier on him without giving up any baseball assets.

For the latest news and notes on the Braves, head over to Talking Chop.


2012 Braves Opening Day Schedule: Tommy Hanson Likely To Start

While Major League Baseball celebrates its official April 5 Opening Day a week early in Japan (we think), the Atlanta Braves are still shuffling their rotation in time for next week's season opener against the New York Mets.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Dave O'Brien is reporting that Tommy Hanson is the likeliest pick for Opening Day after manager Freddie Gonzalez shuffled the Spring Training rotation to start Hanson Sunday against Detroit, his last outing before the regular season.

O'Brien estimates the rotation could go the order of Hanson, Jair Jurrjens, Mike Minor and Brandon Beachy, with Randall Delgado in the fifth spot over Julio Teheran. Tim Hudson is still recovering from back surgery and estimated to return to the lineup sometime in late April or early May. Hudson will throw for two innings on Monday against the Mets.

For more on the Atlanta Braves, be sure to check out Talking Chop and Baseball Nation.

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Atlanta Braves Roster Questions Remain As Regular Season Approaches

Who becomes the starting shortstop? Does Randall Delgado or Julio Teheran claim the final spot in the rotation? We examine these questions and more inside.


Braves Trade Rumors: Team Reluctant To Include Kris Medlen In Any Deal

The Atlanta Braves are being mentioned in several trade possibilities late in spring training, given their need for both outfield and infield depth. The loss of Chipper Jones for a few weeks (and his durability in general) has the team searching for some depth, but Fox Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi says the team is not hip to trading Kris Medlen if they don’t have to.

Medlen is a prime piece for many teams to ask for given his versatility, but that’s what Morosi says the Braves love. Given the Braves’ pitching depth, it makes sense to deal a player like Medlen who is not an anchor in the rotation nor one of the team’s live arms from the minors. However, his ability to pitch in any circumstance — whether long relief or a spot start — is rare, given his consistency.

That said, you have to give something to get something. If the Braves are serious about bolstering the roster, Medlen could be in play. If so, he’s likely to find a permanent home on a lesser pitching staff in the starting rotation.

For more on the Atlanta Braves, be sure to check out Talking Chop and Baseball Nation.


Atlanta Braves Spring Training Recap: Dan Uggla's 3 RBI Powers Braves To 9-4 Victory Over The Mets

Dan Uggla hit his fifth home run of Spring Training on Friday as the Braves posted a 9-4 victory over the New York Mets.


Atlanta Braves Triple Their Way To 9-4 Victory Over Mets

The Atlanta Braves ranked among the worst in baseball last season in terms of triple. Without much speed to run around the bases and a fair ballpark in Atlanta, you really have to hit a ball perfectly into the gap to get three bases. On Friday afternoon, the Braves hit four triples on their way to a 9-4 win over the Mets.

Michael Bourn led off the parade with a triple and was driven in on a triple from Martin Prado. With the score tied at 1-1, Dan Uggla gave Atlanta the lead with an RBI-groundout in the first. Uggla also doubled and hit his fifth home run of Spring Training. The slugging second baseman is locked in right now and could be on pace for his best offensive season yet in 2012.

Mike Minor made the start and struggled a bit, the first time he has done so this spring. The lefty worked 4.2 innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits and four walks. He struck out three. Despite the unspectacular effort, Minor's ERA remains at an impressive 0.96.

Anthony Varvaro continued to struggle, failing to record an out while allowing three hits and a run to score. Eric O'Flaherty and Craig Kimbrel both worked perfect innings, as did Jairo Asencio, who likely has a leg up on the race for a final bullpen spot.

Next up for the Braves: an afternoon showdown with the 16-4 Toronto Blue Jays.


2012 Atlanta Braves Spring Training: Freddie Freeman Catches Fire In Tie With Marlins

Nothing says the MLB in March like a 5-5 tie after 10 innings, but the Atlanta Braves offense looked a lot more comfortable than it has in recent weeks, especially young first baseman Freddie Freeman. On a day marked by the confirmation that Chipper Jones would retire at the end of the season, Freeman did his best "Larry" impersonation, driving in three runs, including a solo homer and a double to score Martin Prado in the first inning.

The Braves next host the New York Mets at 1:05 p.m. ET Friday, with Mike Minor and his Grapefruit League scoreless streak on the hill for Atlanta. Minor has logged 14 innings in five appearances without giving up a run. Jones, who delivered the scorecard but did not play on Thursday, will return to the lineup on Friday.

For more on the Atlanta Braves, be sure to check out Talking Chop and Baseball Nation.

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Braves Spring Training: Atlanta Rallies Late, Knocks Off Nationals In 10th Inning

The Braves were held scoreless with just four hits through eight innings, but a late rally in the ninth against the Washington Nationals tied the game at 1-1 before the Braves came away in the 10th with the 3-2 victory. Tommy Hanson made the start and worked four strong innings, allowing just one hit, a walk and an unearned run. He struck out two batters and improved his Spring Training ERA to 2.57.

Adam Russell worked an inning of relief and allowed two hits. Jairo Asencio continued to impress the coaching staff and struck out two batters in his inning of work. Anthony Varvaro also got back on track with a scoreless seventh inning.

John Lannan was impressive for the Nationals and worked four scoreless innings, allowing three hits and a walk. He also struck out two.

Jordan Parraz tied the game in the ninth with a sharp RBI-single through the right side to score David Rohm. In extra innings, Jose Constanza reached on a fielding error by second baseman Danny Espinosa which allowed a run to score. Rohm then hit a sacrifice fly to left to bring in Tyler Pastornicky.

The Nationals brought one run across the plate in the bottom half of the 10th, but that was all they could muster.

The Braves are now 6-13-2 this spring, while Washington drops to 5-10-2. Atlanta will take on the Marlins on Thursday afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 ET.


Atlanta Braves Continue Losing Ways Against Detroit Tigers As Jair Jurrjens Gets Destroyed

It's probably a good thing the Atlanta Braves will not see the Detroit Tigers in the regular season, seeing as they've gotten absolutely pounded this spring whenever they take on Prince Fielder and Co. After a 7-2 shellacking on Tuesday afternoon, the club is now 0-3 in Spring Training against the Tigers and the pitching staff has surrendered a ton of runs in those games.

Jair Jurrjens made the start and struggled mightily, although a bad spot on the pitching mound had him off balance throughout the game. He even fell down a few times after losing his footing. The 25-year-old allowed seven runs (six earned) on eight hits and two walks in five innings. He struck out two. Jurrjens' ERA in Spring Training is now 10.13. Yikes.

Craig Kimbrel worked a perfect inning in relief, striking out two of the three batters he faced. Cristhian Martinez continued his fine work on the mound by working two shutout innings without allowing a runner to reach base.

The Braves faced Justin Verlander and were unable to do much offensively. Eric Hinske drove in the two runs of the game with a bases loaded single in the third. Jason Heyward was robbed of a home run because of heavy wind blowing in from right field.

Atlanta will look to get back on track tomorrow afternoon against the Washington Nationals.


Arodys Vizcaino Injury Update: Braves Pitcher Out For Season With Tommy John Surgery

The Spring Training woes for the Atlanta Braves continue. One of the top prospects in their system, pitcher Arodys Vizcaino, has his elbow examined on Monday after being diagnosed with ulnar neuritis. The Braves were hoping for a short recovery time, but it appears they were not so lucky.

David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on Tuesday that Vizcaino has a torn ligament and has undergone Tommy John surgery. The operation will keep Vizcaino out for the year. The hope is that the pitcher will be ready to pitch again by Spring Training 2013.

Certainly a blow to the team, as they were hoping for big things from Vizcaino this year. The pitcher had previously partially torn the same ligament in 2010, but it was able to heal without surgery at the time.

For all news and information regarding the Atlanta Braves, please visit Talking Chop or stay tuned to SB Nation Atlanta.

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2012 Braves Spring Training, Grapefruit League Standings

Spring Training isn't the time to worry about wins and losses necessarily but sometimes the momentum from the spring can carry over into the regular season. Atlanta has played better of late recently grabbing two split squad wins over the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Mets. Atlanta dropped a 4-3 decision to the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday to drop their record to 5-12 this season.

Here is a look at the Grapefruit League standings through Monday, March 19:

Detroit Tigers 12 2 --
Toronto Blue Jays 13 4 0.5
Boston Red Sox 9 5 3.0
Minnesota Twins 11 8 3.5
St. Louis Cardinals 8 6 4.0
Houston Astros 9 7 4.0
Miami Marlins 7 7 5.0
New York Yankees 8 9 5.5
Philadelphia Phillies 8 9 5.5
Baltimore Orioles 6 7 5.5
Pittsburgh Pirates 6 9 6.5
Washington Nationals 5 8 6.5
Atlanta Braves 5 12 8.5
Tampa Bay Rays 4 10 8.0
New York Mets 3 11 9.0

For the latest on the Braves, visit Talking Chop. For more news and notes from around the majors, check out SB Nation's baseball hub, Baseball Nation.


Atlant Braves Defeated By Cardinals As Randall Delgado, Julio Teheran Take The Mound

The Atlanta Braves had been on a bit of a roll in recent days, but their winning streak came to an end on Monday afternoon against the St. Louis Cardinals. Despite a late comeback attempt in the ninth inning, Atlanta fell by a score of 4-3.

Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran, two pitchers battling for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, were on the mound, with Delgado working the first five innings and Teheran pitching the final four. While neither had their best stuff, they held their own and kept the Braves in the game.

Delgado allowed two runs to score on three hits and three walks. He struck out five against a Cardinals lineup with numerous starters playing. Teheran also allowed two runs to cross the plate on five hits and two walks. He struck out four.

It seems like Teheran should be the one with the Major League club to begin the year, especially since he spent most of last season at Triple-A while Delgado was at Double-A Mississippi, but it sounds like it may actually be Delgado who has the leg up at this point in Spring Training.

Brian McCann hit his first home run of the exhibition season in the seventh inning, which was the lone extra-base hit of the bay. Freddie Freeman roped out two singles, while shortstop prospect Andrelton Simmons went 0-for-4 to drop his average to .200.

The Braves will face Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers (again) on Tuesday afternoon.


Atlanta Braves Make Another Round Of Roster Cuts

Right-handed pitchers Jaye Chapman, J.J. Hoover and Todd Redmond, and left-handed pitcher Luis Avilan were all optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. Because they are not on the 40-man roster, Gilmartin and catcher Evan Gattis were both simply reassigned to Minor League camp.

"We may see one or all of the guys on that list back in the big leagues this year," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "We had a real good crop of kids."

None of these moves come as much of a surprise, although it is a shame to see Gilmartin leave the Major League camp. The young southpaw will need to get stretched out for his upcoming season, which will likely be at Double-A, and could follow a similar path to Atlanta as the one Mike Minor took a few years ago. That seems to have worked out pretty well for both parties.

The Braves have another busy week of Spring Training action ahead of them and will likely make yet another round of cuts by Wednesday or Thursday. After those cuts, only the guys guaranteed a roster spot and those who are the finalists for various jobs will remain at Dark Star.

For more on the Braves, be sure to check out Talking Chop.


Braves Defeat Blue Jays, Mets In Split-Squad Games

The Atlanta Braves played two games today using split-squad and they won both of those matchups. The first game was against the Toronto Blue Jays where the Braves won 5-3. In this game the Braves led 5-1 heading into the top of the ninth inning and Anthony Varvaro did give up two runs but held off the Blue Jays to win.

Dan Uggla homered in his third straight game and the winning pitcher was Brandon Beachy and he allowed only two hits while striking out six, walked one and gave up one run over four innings.

In the other game today, the Braves took on the New York Mets and won 3-2 after scoring three runs in the eighth inning. Catcher David Ross hit the go-ahead, two-run double in a three-run eighth inning. Ross, Martin Prado and Jason Heyward each had two hits on the afternoon

Braves starter Kris Medlin gave up one hit in four shutout innings, struck out four and walked one.

For the latest on the Braves, visit Talking Chop. For more news and notes from around the majors, check out SB Nation's baseball hub, Baseball Nation.


Atlanta Braves Defeat Astros As Jason Heyward Hits Grand Slam [VIDEO]

The Atlanta Braves appear to finally be getting back on track at Spring Training, winning their third straight game on Friday over the Houston Astros. Despite an early deficit, Atlanta battled back to claim a 9-5 victory, which was fueled by home runs from Jason Heyward and Michael Bourn.

Heyward, who had said earlier in the week that he was finally feeling comfortable at the plate, mashed a first-pitch fastball about 400 feet to right field to clear the bases with a grand slam. It came off left-handed pitcher Wandy Rodriguez.

Here is the video link to Heyward's grand slam.

Every starter other than shortstop Andrelton Simmons record a hit, with utility man Drew Sutton roping out two more hits to increase his average to .421 this spring.

Tommy Hanson made the start and was squeezed at the plate by some inconsistent umpiring, but he managed to allow just two runs in three innings of work. He struck out three and did not walk a batter. Eric O'Flaherty worked an inning and was touched up a bit, allowing a run on two hits, as was Jonny Venters in the fifth inning.

Next up for the Braves: a split-squad game on Saturday, with one team staying home to face the Blue Jays, while the other travels to face the Mets. Both games are schedule to start at 1:05 ET.


Braves Spring Training 2012 Grapefruit League Schedule: Split Squad Saturday, Orioles On Sunday

The Atlanta Braves continue Grapefruit League play this weekend with three games scheduled.

One squad of Braves will head to Port. St. Lucie Saturday to face the New York Mets at 1:10 p.m., while another squad will travel to Dunedin to face the Toronto Blue Jays at 1:05 p.m. The game against Toronto can be seen on Fox Sports South and MLB.TV, while the game against the Mets can also be seen live on MLB.TV with a delayed broadcast on MLB Network at 7 a.m. Sunday morning.

On Sunday, the Braves will host a Baltimore Orioles split-squad at Lake Buena Vista at 1:05 p.m. That game can be seen on Charter Sports Southeast with a delayed broadcast on MLB Network at 3:00 a.m. Monday.

For the latest on the Braves, visit Talking Chop. For more news and notes from around the majors, check out SB Nation's baseball hub, Baseball Nation.


Arodys Vizcaino Injury Update: Braves Pitcher Will Have Elbow Examined On Monday

The Atlanta Braves are currently struggling in Spring Training, but it now appears as though one of their pitchers is experiencing some pre-season medical woes.

David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Braves pitcher Arodys Vizcaino has been diagnosed with ulnar neuritis in his elbow, but requires further examination. The player will have his elbow looked at by a doctor on Monday.

O'Brien followed up by saying that Vizcaino partially tore the ulnar collateral ligament in question back in 2010. At that time, the ligament was allowed to heal without surgery.

Vizcaino was called up to the Braves in August of 2011 and made his MLB debut as a reliever. His current MLB stats are a 1-1 record, with 4.67 ERA and 17 strikeouts. He is considered to be among the top prospects in the Braves system.

For all news and information regarding the Atlanta Braves, please visit Talking Chop or stay tuned to SB Nation Atlanta.


Atlanta Braves End Losing Streak With 6-5 Victory Over Nationals, Stephen Strasburg

After nearly two weeks of Spring Training play, the Atlanta Braves have claimed their second victory of the exhibition season with a 6-5 win over the Washington Nationals. Stephen Strasburg made the start for Washington and pitched well, but the Braves put strong at-bats together all evening with a national audience watching on MLBTV.

Dan Uggla got the club on the board in the first with an opposite field two-run homer off Strasburg, driving in Brian McCann who had drawn a walk in the previous at-bat. Uggla came up once again with the bases loaded in the third and just missed a grand slam, instead settling for a deep sacrifice fly at the warning track.

Jason Heyward looked very good at the plate and hit a rocket home run off Strasburg on a high fastball. The 22-year-old outfielder also belted a double down the right field line to finish his game. There are few players in Major League Baseball that will be relied on more than Heyward in 2012 and Atlanta needs him producing like he did on Wednesday if they hope to have any chance this year.

Julio Teheran made the start and impressed before losing command in the fourth. Teheran wracked up two strikeouts and allowed just two hits in his first three innings before allowing a walk and two deep homers. Randall Delgado also impressed in four innings of work, striking out five while allowing just two runs on four hits. The 21-year-old also walked three Nationals.

With the Braves trailing 5-4 in the eighth, outfielder Jordan Parraz hit a solo-homer to left-center field to tie the game up. Jose Constanza singled, David Ross moved him over with a bunt and Luis Durango drove a single to left to score Constanza. Eric O'Flaherty worked a perfect ninth inning to give the Braves the 6-5 win.


Atlanta Braves Cut 6, Trim Majors Roster To 50

The Atlanta Braves have made their first round of cuts to their spring training roster on Wednesday. Pitchers Erik Cordier, Jason Rice, and Zeke Spruill were sent to minor league camp along with positional players in catcher Matt Kennelly and outfielders Todd Cunningham and Stefan Gartrell.

The folks over at SB Nation Atlanta Braves blog Talking Chop have some interesting takes on a few of the prospects that were cut. Here is gondeee on pitcher Jason Rice:

The only real surprise for me here is Jason Rice. I thought he had a really good chance before spring started, but then games started and he got knocked around hard in his first outing. He did have a couple of good outings, but was pretty wild in yesterday's appearance, hitting two batters. He's got a good arm, so if he can being to control the walks we might see him back in Atlanta this year.

Gondeee doesn't seem to optimistic on Erik Cordier either:

Erik Cordier has been a bit of a disappointment, and I still don't know what to make of him; whether he can be a strong one-inning reliever, or if he's simply a four-A starting pitcher.

The Braves are 21 days away from opening day, and it will be interesting to see how Fredi Gonzalez whittles down this roster as Atlanta looks to contend for an NL East crown.

For all news and information regarding the Atlanta Braves, please visit Talking Chop or stay tuned to SB Nation Atlanta.


Atlanta Braves Tie Marlins 2-2 As Mike Minor Continues To Dominate

The Atlanta Braves avoided their seventh straight loss on Tuesday afternoon agains the Miami Marlins, but they also were not able to pick up their second victory of Spring Training, either. The two clubs played 10 innings and finished with a 2-2 tie.

Mike Minor made the start and continued to be the best starter on the team this spring, working four innings of one-hit ball. The lefty struck out four batters and only walked one. Through three starts, Minor has yet to allow a run. It's pretty safe to say he has guaranteed himself a spot in the starting rotation and may honestly be the best pitcher on the team come Opening Day.

Kris Medlen worked two scoreless innings and continued to impress. Anthony Varvaro got hit around a bit and blew an early 1-0 lead for the Braves, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk. Erik Cordier did a nice job in relief of Varvaro and recorded a strikeout to get out of a bases loaded jam.

Brian McCann drove in a run for the Braves with an RBI-single in the fourth. With his team trailing 2-1 in the ninth, top-catching prospect Christian Bethancourt belted a solo-home run to tie the game. The 20-year-old catching prospect is now 4-for-10 in Spring Training with a double and homer.

Neither side scored in the 10th before the game was called.

Hey, at least the Braves didn't lose, right?


Chipper Jones Shoots Down Retirement Rumors

Atlanta Braves third baseman Chipper Jones is heading into his 20th season in Major League Baseball, all of them with the Atlanta club. On Monday, a story was published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that made it seem as if he was mulling retirement during Braves Spring Training. Now Jones has responded, saying he has every intention of playing.

On Tuesday morning, Jones addressed the media via phone interview and according to Mark Bowman of, he wasn't very happy that his comments were misrepresented.

"Unfortunately, I said it around two guys who don't know me very well, and they didn't realize I was kidding around," Jones said. "One of the guys asked, 'You think you can make it through the season with your knees?' I said, 'Make it through the season, I don't know if I can make it through tomorrow.' Obviously, I'm joking. That's an obvious joke. Really, I just came off the field after playing eight innings. I've had eight at-bats all spring. I was kidding around.

"It was tongue and cheek [sic]. I was kidding. I just got done playing eight innings with three at-bats. I was a little tired. I wasn't by any means suggesting I couldn't make it through the season. If I didn't think that I could, I wouldn't be out there."

Jones' agent was also displeased, calling the speculation a "disservice" to the future Hall of Famer and his career.

For all news and information regarding the Atlanta Braves, please visit Talking Chop or stay tuned to SB Nation Atlanta.


Chipper Jones Unsure If He Can Make It Through 2012 Season With Atlanta Braves

The All-Star third baseman sounds like a man who is tired of his body always hurting him.


Atlanta Braves Spring Training: Rainy Conditions, Bad Pitching Lead To Another Loss

The good news for the Atlanta Braves: they still have nearly four weeks to get their act together and start winning a few ballgames. The bad news for the Braves: they aren't exactly showing any signs of improvement in Spring Training from what we saw in September. While playing a split squad game on Sunday, a rainout and a loss dropped Atlanta to 1-9 this spring.

Tommy Hanson made the start in one of the two games against the Blue Jays but his afternoon was disrupted greatly by storms in the area. Hanson, who was making his first start of Spring Training after suffering a minor concussion from a car accident, worked an inning and did not have much command, although the rain likely had a lot to do with it. He also used his 'new and improved' pitching motion on the mound, but those who saw him in-person said it really wasn't any different than what he had been doing in previous seasons.

The Braves lost their other game against the Blue Jays by a score of 9-5. First round pick Sean Gilmartin worked two very strong innings and struck out three while allowing no runs, two hits and a walk. Todd Redmond and Jairo Asencio both got tattooed for a combined five runs, and Jaye Chapman lasted just one-third of an inning before being pulled for allowing four runners to cross the plate.

Jason Heyward, batting .190 in Spring Training, went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Tyler Pastornicky went 1-for-4 with a single to improve his batting average to .115. Stud catching prospect Christian Bethancourt had a perfect day, recording a hit (including a double) in all three of his at-bats. Eric Hinske hit his second solo-homer of the spring.

Maybe we can win a game on Monday?

Next up for the club: the St. Louis Cardinals. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.


Tim Hudson Injury Update: Hudson Looks To Join Braves Rotation By May 1

The Atlanta Braves will look to have their ace starting pitcher Tim Hudson back into the starting rotation sometime this year, but nailing down a specific time still seems to be a bit of an issue. Hudson is recovering from a lumbar spine-fusion surgery (sounds painful) that took place back in late November, and 3 1/2 months later the Columbus native is "optimistic" on joining the rotation by May 1.

"I think [May 1] at the latest," Hudson said. "It’d be hard to say [if he can return earlier] because I’ve got to build up to that. I could be back in April but it might be a four- or five-inning thing. April is my month of spring training games — unless I’m able to pitch sooner here [in camp] sooner than we thought."

The Braves are planning on starting Hudson in the minor leagues until he's fully ready to come up to the big league club. At 36, he's the longest tenured pitcher on the Braves staff and the unquestioned leader of the rotation.

For more information on the Atlanta Braves, check out Talking Chop. To read more on Major League Baseball, visit Baseball Nation.


Atlanta Braves Lose Both Split-Squad Games, Drop To 1-7 In Spring Training

In the grand scheme of things, one bad week of Spring Training games really won't matter to the Braves. They have a team with veteran players that have proven their abilities time and again in the regular season. That being said, can we start to win some freaking games already?

After dropping both of their split-squad games on Friday afternoon against the Mets and Yankees, Atlanta is now 1-7 for Spring Training. Hardly the results you want after blowing a seven-game lead in two and a half weeks last season.

Julio Teheran looked much better against a tough Yankees lineup and worked three innings, allowing just one run. The 21-year-old righty struck out three batters and surrendered just three hits and a walk. Cristhian Martinez worked two innings and allowed a run on two hits and a walk, and Adam Russell allowed a run of his own despite striking out two in his inning of work.

Brandon Hicks had the lone extra-base hit against the Yankees and the team failed to score any runs, losing 3-0.

Randall Delgado made the start against the Mets and continued to struggle, giving up three runs in three innings on three hits and a walk. He struck out two. Anthony Varvaro worked a perfect 1-2-3 inning, as did Jonny Venters, who struck out all three batters he faced. Craig Kimbrel and Eric O'Flaherty got some work in and both worked a scoreless inning despite allowing multiple base runners.

Offensively, Martin Prado had a strong day with two ground-rule doubles, and Jason Heyward got in on the action with a double of his own. Dan Uggla drove in a run with an RBI-single to improve his batting average to .364 this spring. Chipper Jones played for the first time in a week with a sore knee.

Next up for the Braves: another matchup with the Yankees on Saturday afternoon. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.


Atlanta Braves Continue Losing Ways Against Baltimore Orioles

Hey, they play exhibition games for a reason, right? Despite a solid start from Mike Minor, the Atlanta Braves continued to struggle offensively and fell to the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 2-1. The club is now 1-5 in Spring Training and it looks like their chances at a Grapefruit League title is in serious jeopardy. It's probably time to fire and trade everyone.

Minor battled through three innings and allowed three hits and a walk, although he was able to avoid giving up any runs. The young lefty continues to impress and should be a key piece of the 2012 starting rotation in Atlanta. Yohan Flande worked two scoreless innings of relief, while Jaye Chapman allowed the game-tying run to score while going two innings against the O's. Pitching prospect J.J. Hoover was not sharp in the eighth inning and allowed a run on two hits and two walks.

Eric Hinske scored the lone run for Atlanta on Thursday and did so with a huge solo-homer in the seventh inning. Jason Heyward and David Ross hit back-to-back singles in the second inning, but that was about all the production the team would get from their regular starters.

Next up: the New York Yankees on Friday. Julio Teheran will take the mound and needs to show a few signs of improvement after getting destroyed in his last start.


Atlanta Braves Fall To Detroit Tigers 5-1, Brandon Beachy Struggles In Debut

The Atlanta Braves will not have to face the Detroit Tigers in the regular season. This is probably for the best, seeing as the club is now 0-3 against them in Spring Training. Despite a strong start from Brandon Beachy in the first inning, the righty allowed four runs in the second as the Braves would eventually fall 5-1.

Beachy was on fire in the first inning, striking out the leadoff batter and only throwing one ball to the opposition. The second inning was not as kind, with Beachy giving up two walks, three hits and a sacrifice fly. Jairo Asencio came in to relieve him and allowed a run on a solo-homer to Miguel Cabrera.

Atlanta had plenty of chances to score on Wednesday afternoon, but they seemingly could never come up with the big hit to put a crooked number on the board. The lone run of the game came on a fielder's choice groundout from J.C. Boscan that scored Drew Sutton from third. Sutton has continually impressed those in Braves camp this spring and will be in the running for the utility job off the bench.

Some have even wondered if Sutton could become a player similar to All-Star second baseman Ben Zobrist.

Once Asencio departed, Cory Gearrin worked a scoreless inning, striking out and walking a batter. Dusty Hughes struck out two in his scoreless inning of work, and Zeke Spruill continued to look good while closing out the ninth inning.

The Braves are now 1-4 in Spring Training and will next face the Orioles on Thursday.


Atlanta Braves Fall To Washington Nationals As Kris Medlen Makes The Start

The Atlanta Braves faced off with their NL East rivals on Tuesday afternoon and sent Kris Medlen to the mound as a starter for the first time in nearly 18 months. While Medlen only worked two innings and was likely just getting his work in, all eyes were on the righty and his surgically repaired elbow. Despite a solid outing from Medlen, the Braves fell by a score of 5-2.

Medlen worked two innings and allowed one run -- a solo-shot to Jayson Werth -- while striking out two batters and walking none. The Braves trio of stud relievers, Eric O'Flaherty, Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel all worked an inning, although Kimbrel was the only one to avoid giving up a run. Cristhian Martinez continued his stellar work out of the bullpen and struck out three batters in two scoreless innings.

Dan Uggla continued to hit well and smacked yet another double to drive in a run. Brian McCann doubled as well, and shortstop prospect Andrelton Simmons singled and drew a walk in his first start of the spring. Freddie Freeman made his debut after injuring his knee last week and went 0-for-3. Fortunately, the slugging first baseman said the knee felt good and he was just a bit rusty in the box.

Former-Brave Mark DeRosa hit a solo-homer for the Nationals in the fourth inning. Top-prospect Bryce Harper went 1-for-4 with a single. The talented outfielder was also caught up on a double play to end a scoring threat.

The Braves are now 1-3 in Spring Training and will take on the Tigers at 1:05 ET on Wednesday.


Atlanta Braves Injury: Chipper Jones Out For Third Straight Game

Chipper Jones is out of the Atlanta Braves lineup for the third straight game.


Atlanta Braves Claim First Spring Training Victory As Dan Uggla Homers

The Atlanta Braves got pounded over the weekend by the Detroit Tigers to begin the 2012 Spring Training season, but the club got back on track on Monday afternoon against the Houston Astros. The club only had a few of their projected starters in the lineup, but a solid offensive effort and decent work from the pitching staff led Atlanta to a 10-5 victory.

Jair Jurrjens made the start and all eyes were on the righty as he attempted to come back from a knee injury. The 25-year old worked two innings and allowed two runs on three hits and a walk. He did not strike out anyone, and his fastball was clocked in the upper-80's. Robert Fish, a rare Rule 5 selection for the team, worked a scoreless inning in relief and appears to be in the running for one of the final bullpen jobs.

Todd Redmond pitched two innings and gave up two runs, allowing Houston to take a brief lead in the sixth, but was credited with a win because of an offensive outburst in the seventh. Cory Gearrin worked a perfect eighth inning, and pitching prospect Zeke Spruill allowed two hits and a walk as he closed out the game in the ninth.

Dan Uggla hit a big home run to left field to add to an early Braves lead in the third, and also doubled and drew a walk. Michael Bourn and shortstop prospect Andrelton Simmons both tripled, while third base prospect Joey Terdoslavich roped out two doubles and drew a walk. Jason Heyward came through in the first inning with a two-out, bases loaded single.

With their first exhibition win in the books, the club will host the Washington Nationals on Tuesday afternoon. Top-prospect Bryce Harper is expected to play the final few innings of the game.


Braves Vs. Astros: Atlanta Starts Week 2 Of Spring Training Monday Afternoon

It's been a less than stellar, less than solid go of things for the 2012 Atlanta Braves in Spring Training, but hey - it's March for a reason. The Braves will start a weeklong slate of games against Houston today at 1:05 p.m. ET with this just-announced, Chipper Jones free lineup:

The Braves were outscored 20-3 in two games against Detroit over the weekend, so they'll be looking to improve minor areas of concern (like hitting the ball and pitching ball, namely) in games against the Astros, National and Tigers again before a split-squad Thursday against the Yankees and Mets, and a Saturday afternoon game against the Yankees.

For more on the Atlanta Braves, check out Talking Chop and Baseball Nation. Houston Astros info can be found at From The Crawfish Boxes.


Atlanta Braves Give Up Nine Homers (NINE!), Lose 18-3 To Tigers

The Atlanta Braves have a total of 10 hits in two games thus far in Spring Training. The Detroit Tigers hit nine home runs today. Does someone need to tell the club that it is no longer September?

Randall Delgado started the game and only made it through one inning, allowing four runs on two hits and two walks. He was pulled for Julio Teheran, who have up seven runs on six hits and a walk. Jairo Asencio worked a perfect inning in the fifth, just to see Jason Rice allow six runs (five earned) on three hits and three walks in one-third of the sixth.

Top-10 organizational prospects J.J. Hoover worked 1.2 scoreless innings without allowing a run, and Sean Gilmartin made his Spring Training debut worked another scoreless inning, allowing one hit and recording one strikeout.

Martin Prado was one of the few regulars to make the trip and went 2-for-3 on the afternoon. Tyler Pastornicky went 0-for-4 and left four runners on base, while Matt Diaz took an 0-for-3. Ernesto Mejia drove in a run in the fifth with an RBI-triple. Andrelton Simmons knocked in a run while grounding into a double play in the eighth, and Jordan Parraz cut the deficit to 18-3 with an RBI-single up the middle.

Jair Jurrjens will take the mound on Monday afternoon against the Astros.


Atlanta Braves Record One Hit (ONE!) In Spring Training Opener Against Tigers

The Atlanta Braves pencilled in most of their regulars for the Spring Training opener against the Detroit Tigers and recent-acquired Prince Fielder. Despite their A-squad and numerous capable backups playing the final few innings, the Braves recorded just one hit -- a single from backup right fielder Jordan Parraz in the eighth inning -- and drew only four walks.

Mike Minor impressed in his first start of the spring, striking out three batters in two innings. He allowed just one walk, one hit and no runs on the afternoon. Anthony Varvaro gave up a solo-homer in the third inning, and Erik Cordier allowed an insurance run in the ninth.

The Tigers roped out 10 hits but were unable to cash in for most of the afternoon. Doug Fister made the start and looked very impressive, just as he did in the second half of last year.

This game was bound to be sloppy for Atlanta and we can only hope this will not be a continuing trend. The two clubs will square off once again tomorrow at 1:05. Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado will be on the mound for the Braves.

For more on the team, head on over to Talking Chop.


Atlanta Braves Unveil First Lineup Of Spring Training, Freddie Freeman Rests His Knee

The Atlanta Braves will officially kick off their Spring Training slate of games this afternoon in sunny Florida against Prince Fielder and the Detroit Tigers. With young left-handed starter Mike Minor scheduled to start the game and work two innings, he will be relieved by relievers Cristhian Martinez, Anthony Varvaro, Arodys Vizcaino, Adam Russell and Erik Cordier.

Freddie Freeman is still recovering after twisting his knee a bit earlier in the week and will be replaced with Eric Hinske at first base. Matt Diaz will serve as the DH, and every one of the other regular starters will play today. Michael Bourn, Martin Prado and Chipper Jones will get the lineup going across the top, and they will be followed by Brian McCann, Dan Uggla and Hinske. Jason Heyward will bat seventh, Diaz goes eighth and rookie shortstop Tyler Pastornicky comes in ninth.

The game figures to be pretty sloppy at points with it being the first competitive baseball game in months for most of these guys, but it's always great to see the Braves out on the field.


MLB Playoffs Rule Changes: Atlanta Braves Playoff Chances Increase

Had Major League Baseball decided to adjust its playoff format before the start of the 2011 season, the Atlanta Braves would have made the post-season, despite their epic struggles down the stretch.

The new rules, announced by the MLB on Friday afternoon, now allows five teams per league into the playoff scenario.

The Braves have young talent both on the mound as well as at the plate and look to be a contender once again in 2012. Since these rules go into effect this season, Atlanta could immediately benefit just in case there is a similar situation to las season.

On Aug. 25, they were 79-53, 10 1/2 games ahead of the St. Louis Cardinals for the NL Wild Card berth. From there, Atlanta went 10-20.

"The players are eager to begin playing under this new format in 2012, and they look forward to moving to full realignment in 2013," MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner said to the Associated Press.


Atlanta Braves Spring Training: Mike Minor To Pitch Opener, Tommy Hanson Back On Track

The Atlanta Braves have their first game of Spring Training right around the corner and manager Fredi Gonzalez informed the media that Mike Minor would be making the start on Saturday afternoon against the Tigers. This is the same Mike Minor who reportedly upset some members of the front office last week when he implied he'd demand a potential trade request should he not pitch in Atlanta this season.

It is unclear if Gonzalez is looking to send a message or not by giving Minor the start -- these games mean practically nothing, anyway -- but it is an interesting bit of news nonetheless. Should he pitch up to his potential in 2012, Minor could very well end up being the best starting pitcher on the team due to injuries.

As Gonzalez said in the tweet above, nothing else has been set for the Spring Training rotation.

We also got a bit of Tommy Hanson news:

My money is on Jair Jurrjens to make the Opening Day start due to he will be the longest tenured starter with the club, but that would probably make most fans uneasy heading into the regular season, especially with the way Jurrjens struggled down the stretch last year. This final decision will not be made for at least a few weeks.


Freddie Freeman Recovering From Knee Injury, Could Take Batting Practice Next Week, Per Report

Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman went down on Tuesday with a "minor" knee injury in Spring Training thought to keep him out for two weeks, although just a day later he seems to be improving already:

Freeman himself was optimistic when Tweeting out his own injury update:

Bowman reported that Freeman suffered what the first baseman assumes to be the exact same injury while playing in Triple A during the 2010 season, and that the recovery time was two weeks. Even if Freeman, a surefire Opening Day starter at first base, misses two weeks, he'll still have two more worth of exhibition games before the start of the season. Expect utility infielder Eric Hinkse to see the most time at first while Freeman recovers.

For more on the Atlanta Braves, check out Baseball Nation and Talking Chop.


Freddie Freeman Injury: Braves 1B Injured During Fielding Drill, Out 1-2 Weeks

The Atlanta Braves are already well into their 2012 Spring Training, but suffered a bit of a scare at team practices on Tuesday regarding their phenomenal young first baseman, Freddie Freeman. Luckily for them, the early indication is that the injury will not result in Freeman missing significant time.

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David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Freeman popped his right knee on Tuesday while participating in a fielding drill on Tuesday. It isn't a major injury, like the one recently suffered by Oakland Athletics third baseman Scott Sizemore in a similar fashion. O'Brien did indicate, however, that the injury was "more than a mild strain" and that Freeman is expected to miss 1-2 weeks of Spring Training.

The unofficial, early word is that Freeman suffered a sprain. The Braves had already suffered an infielder injury to backup shortstop Jack Wilson.

For all news and information regarding Freddie Freeman and the Atlanta Braves, please visit Talking Chop.


Tommy Hanson Hopes To Be Cleared For Full Activity By Tuesday

After being sidelined for almost a week while recovering from the effects of a concussion he suffered in a one-car accident, Atlanta Braves SP Tommy Hanson was able to work-out Sunday with no ill effects and expects to be cleared by Atlanta's medical staff shortly:

While there were no reports that Hanson's injury was considered all that serious, the mountains of new scientific research which shows the lingering affects of a head injury has made the Braves cautious in bringing their young pitcher back into the fold.

Every player responds differently, but the worst case scenario appears to be happening in Minnesota, where the career of Justin Morneau, a former MVP, is in jeopardy due to recurring concussion-like symptoms.

Thankfully for Atlanta fans, it doesn't appear that Hansen's injury is anywhere as serious.


Atlanta Braves Roster Preview: A Look At Brian McCann And David Ross

The Atlanta Braves are fortunate to have the best catching duo in all of baseball with Brian McCann and David Ross and they will be relied on once again in 2012 to help carry the offense. McCann has been the most productive catcher over the course of the last five years and David Ross is undoubtably a top-tier backup catcher, if not the best in the game.

Brian McCann 2012 Projections and Outlook:

Bill James: .276/.360/.484, .357 wOBA, 24 HR, 88 RBI

ZiPS: .270/.354/.458, .350 wOBA, 22 HR, 79 RBI

McCann will be penciled in the lineup most days of the week unless he gets an evening off to rest and will bat anywhere from third to sixth. Fredi Gonzalez typically had B-Mac batting No. 4 or 5 in 2011, although that could be influenced in 2012 if Jason Heyward rebounds and/or if Chipper Jones goes down with an injury. Regardless of where he bats, McCann is as consistent as they come at the plate and will continue to be the All-Star catcher that he has been for years.

The biggest concern with McCann would have to be his health. While he has done a nice job staying on the field despite nagging injuries that come with being a catcher, he never quite recovered from an oblique strain he suffered in late July of last season. The Braves will need a healthy and productive Brian McCann if they hope to win big in 2012.

David Ross 2012 Projections and Outlook:

James: .232/.321/.405, .321 wOBA, 11 HR, 40 RBI

ZiPS: .239/.333/.413, .327 wOBA, 5 HR, 22 RBI.

Ross had a down year by his standards in 2012 and has regained some of the weight and strength he sacrificed last season while trying to lean out. He will be 35 years old by Opening Day, but most feel he has at least a few more productive years left behind the plate. Ross will likely catch only a game or two each week while giving McCann a night off and would immediately become the starter should Mac suffer an injury.


Braves Front Office Annoyed With Mike Minor's Trade Request?

According to MLB writer Jon Heyman, the Atlanta Braves "decision makers" were annoyed by Mike Minor's suggestion that he would want to be traded out of Atlanta if he isn't one of the pitchers in the starting rotation.

mike minor annoyed #braves decisionmakers by originally suggesting he'd want a trade if he isn't in the rotation, i hear 1 hour ago via web · Reply · Retweet · Favorite · powered by @socialditto

It's unclear as to what the starting rotation will be but Minor's 2011 ERA was 4.14 in 15 starts. It will be interesting to see how the Braves "decision makers" respond to Minor's demand and if their annoyance with his ultimatum weighs in on their decision to start Minor, trade him or find a spot in the bullpen for him.

For more on the Braves, head to Talking Chop.


Jack Wilson Out 4-6 Weeks With Calf Strain

Atlanta Braves SS Jack Wilson has suffered a right calf strain that will keep him out of action for the next 4-6 weeks:

The Braves re-signed Wilson, a 10-year veteran, to a one-year contract in the off-season to be a reserve middle infielder.

An All-Star for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2004, Atlanta acquired the 6'0 190 shortstop for a player to be named later in August of last year from the Seattle Mariners.

In 79 games for the Braves and the Mariners last season, he hit .243/.274/.285 with 11 RBI's.

If the timetable for his recovery is correct, the injury will force Wilson to miss the rest of training camp as well as the first week of the season.

For the latest news and notes on Atlanta Braves spring training, head over to Talking Chop.


Atlanta Braves Spring Training: Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado Not Moving To Bullpen, Jose Constanaza Fits In

The Atlanta Bravescontinue to go through team workouts in Florida and will have the entire roster at their disposal by Friday at the latest. Just a few short weeks remain before the Spring Training games begin and everyone in camp will be looking to impress manager Fredi Gonzalez and the coaching staff. There are few looming questions with the 25-man roster, and Gonzalez addressed two of them on Tuesday.

A few weeks ago, the manager suggested Julio Teheran and/or Randall Delgado could be bullpen options for Atlanta to begin the season. Many were confused by this news, especially with Teheran and Delgado both being capable of serving as front-end rotation starters one day. David O'Brien of the AJC has the update from Dark Star.

After saying a few weeks ago that Teheran or Delgado would be bullpen candidates if one or the other didn't win a spot in the starting rotation, Gonzalez changed course Wednesday and said the two needed to pitch as starters, in the majors or minors.

Teheran and Delgado will compete with Mike Minorfor the fifth spot in the Braves' rotation, but two of the three are expected in the opening-day rotation with one filling in temporarily for Hudson.

You hate to send one of those kids to the bullpen as a long guy," Gonzalez said, "when we could have them in Double-A or Triple-A - I assume both will pitch Triple-A, or Minor would pitch Triple-A - where at least you could let them pitch every fifth day."

This is great news for the Braves and we can only hope Gonzalez does not change his mind once again. As O'Brien mentioned, it is likely Teheran or Delgado will begin the year in Atlanta regardless due to Tim Hudson missing time as he recovers from back surgery.

Most spots on the 25-man roster are already set, but there could be competition for the fourth outfielder's job coming off the bench. Jose Constanza, who became a fan-favorite after providing a boost to the team in July, fits perfectly on the roster, according to Gonzalez.

When asked if Jose Constanza would get a look this spring as a possible roster candidate, Gonzalez said the speedy outfielder would get more than that.

"He did enough last year that he deserves to get not [just] a look, but an opportunity," said Gonzalez, adding that Constanza could fit as a backup outfielder if the rest of the five-man bench is outfielder Matt Diaz, corner infielder/outfielder Eric Hinske, catcher David Ross and infielder Jack Wilson.

Given Constanza's ability to play all three outfield positions, along with his speed that can steal a base or two, it makes a lot of sense to include him on the roster as a fourth outfielder. He could occasionally fill in for Michael Bourn in center and would split time with Matt Diaz in left whenever Martin Prado is at third base.

For more on the Braves and to discuss the roster, head on over to Talking Chop.


Braves Spring Training 2012: Stadium, Grapefruit League Map And More

The Atlanta Braves already have their pitchers and catchers in attendance at their Spring Training facilities in Orlando and are gearing up for baseball to finally begin once again.

As has been the case since 1997, the Braves will make their Spring Training home at Champion Stadium in Florida. If your destination for the spring is Braves baseball rather than Disney World, you'll want to set your GPS to 700 S. Victory Lane, Lake Buena Vista, Disney World. The stadium seats 9,500 and parking is free.Tickets run between $10 and $46 dollars.

Here are the directions to the stadium, courtesy of Spring Training Online:

Lake Buena Vista is located in the southwest corner of Orlando. Take I-4 to Hwy. 192 West and follow signs to Magic Kingdom/Wide World of Sports, right onto Victory Way. (Directions at Disney World are clear and plentiful. Follow the signs to Wide World of Sports.)

The below map shows the location of Champion Stadium in relation to the other Grapefruit League parks.


You can find more information regarding the stadium, including the Braves Spring Training schedule at Champion Stadium and ticketing info by clicking right here.

For all news and information regarding the Atlanta Braves, please visit Talking Chop. For complete coverage of Spring Training, head on over to Baseball Nation.


Tommy Hanson Update: Braves Pitcher Will Miss Second Day With Mild Concussion

Atlanta Braves starter Tommy Hanson will miss his second consecutive day of practice Tuesday after being involved in a one-car accident on Monday morning:

Hanson reportedly suffered a mild concussion in the accident, and given recent scientific discoveries about the dangers of head injuries, the Braves are likely to be extremely cautious in bringing one of their most promising young pitchers back into action.

At this point, it does not seem like the 6'6 220 right-hander will be out a significant amount of time, but it's extremely hard to gauge the severity of these types of injuries.

Minnesota Twins 1B Justin Morneau has played in only 150 games over the last two years due to the after-effects of a concussion while Red Sox SP Josh Beckett missed less than a week after a similar injury last season.


Tommy Hanson Car Accident: Braves Pitcher In Hospital For Evaluation

Atlanta Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson was involved in a car accident Monday morning:

While none of the initial reports indicates it was too serious, Hanson decided to err on the side of caution and head to a local hospital near their spring training complex in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Hanson, a 6'6 220 right-hander from Tulsa, Okla., has been one of the Braves' best starting pitchers since stepping into the starting rotation in 2009, when he finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year voting.

The 25-year-old has a career ERA of 3.21 in 460 innings for Atlanta over the last three seasons and is expected to be an integral piece of the Braves' starting rotation this season.


2012 Braves Spring Training Schedule

Braves hitters report to spring training on Feb. 24, and their first game is on March 3rd.


Braves Pitcher Tim Hudson Recovering From Surgery, Aiming For April Return

Hudson underwent surgery to repair a herniated disk in his back during the offseason.


Braves Spring Training 2012: Pitchers And Catchers Reporting

Pitchers and catchers report for spring training, and there are questions about lingering injuries from last season from Tommy Hanson and Jair Jurrjens.


Braves Spring Training: Greg Walker Laments 2011 White Sox

Braves hitting coach Greg Walker opens up about what happened last year with his former team the Chicago White Sox.


Braves Spring Training 2012: Jonny Venters, Craig Kimbrel Changing Approach To Preseason

Atlanta Braves relievers Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel have both made adjustments to their preseason routines in an effort to remain strong for the entire 2012 season.


Braves Spring Training 2012: Tim Hudson's Health, Jason Heyward's Swing Headline Early Stories

The Braves are less than a week from Spring Training. What are the burning questions heading into camp?

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