March 4, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves shortstop Tyler Pastornicky (1) hits a single in the game against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
Pastornicky, Randall Delgado, Jose Constanza and others received some great news on Monday.
The Atlanta Braves have set their 25-man roster for the start of the 2012 season. While there weren't a ton of story lines to watch for heading into the start of camp, we certainly had some by the time it was all said and done. With the first game of the regular season set for Thursday afternoon against the Mets, let's take a look at the roster and who wound up victorious in the roster battles.
Tyler Pastornicky, who many figured would be the starting shortstop regardless of his spring performance, was named the starter on Monday over Andrelton Simmons. Some folks believed that Simmons had gained some serious ground on Pastornicky given his struggles both at the plate and in the field, but an injury to Simmons and a strong finish from Pastornicky all-but-ended the battle last week. Look for him to bat No. 8 in the lineup.
Randall Delgado will be the 5th starting pitcher in the rotation, meaning Julio Teheran will return to Triple-A Gwinnett once again to refine his approach and improve command. Most felt Delgado had held a slight lead since the opening weeks of camp, although neither pitcher impressed in a handful of starts.
Just one bullpen spot was up for grabs and it was given to lefty Yohan Flande over Cory Gearrin. With the recent signing of Livan Hernandez to serve as the long-man in the 'pen, it allows both Kris Medlen and Cristhian Martinez -- two right-handed pitchers -- to work more in the middle innings. This allows the club to carry Flande to serve as their left-handed specialist, while Gearrin can continue to log innings in the Minor Leagues.
Finally, one spot on the bench appeared to be open, although we learned quickly this morning that there really wasn't a roster battle at all. Despite an awful showing in camp, Jose Constanza beat out Luis Durango and Jordan Parraz for the final spot on the roster.
This was my biggest gripe with the 25-man roster; Constanza played well -- and benefited greatly from some luck -- for about two weeks last season and did not do much of anything after that. His defense leaves something to be desired and is incapable of handling center field, meaning Jason Heyward is the club's lone option to backup Michael Bourn. Both Durango and Parraz played very well this spring and deserved a spot over Constanza.