Spring Training Opens Up For Atlanta Braves In Florida

2014 Roster Is Without Tim Hudson And Brian McCann

Thursday, February 13, 2014
The Atlanta Braves play their home games at Champion Field - a part of the Disney Complex near Orlando, Fl.
The Atlanta Braves play their home games at Champion Field - a part of the Disney Complex near Orlando, Fl.
- photo by Tim Evearitt

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A little more than four months have passed since the Braves blew an eighth-inning lead against the Dodgers in the decisive Game 4 of the National League Division Series. While time has erased the initial frustration, it appears a lingering sting could provide some motivation this season.

The Braves are eagerly approaching the dawn of a new season with a sense of confidence that is fortified by the fact that this year's roster looks much like the same one they used on the way to notching 96 victories and the NL East crown last year.

A sense of optimism and excitement filled the air as Atlanta's pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training on Thursday and began preparing for their first workout on Friday.

Though the club's first full-squad workout will not be held until Wednesday, a handful of position players, including Freddie Freeman and Dan Uggla,  have already spent the past couple of days working at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex, which has served as the club's Spring Training home since 1998.

The early days of camp could produce a bit of an odd feeling that comes courtesy of the offseason departures of the club's two previously longest-tenured players -- Tim Hudson and Brian McCann. While these two veterans will be missed in the clubhouse, the Braves spent last season's final two months providing some indication that they can win without them.

Atlanta produced a Major League-best 39-21 record after July 24, the day that Hudson suffered his season-ending ankle injury. During this 60-game span, McCann hit just .217 with seven home runs and a .661 OPS.

As Hudson extends his career with the Giants and McCann experiences a new life with the Yankees, the Braves believe they are still capable of staying ahead of a talented Nationals club that finished 10 games back in last year's division race.

Minus Hudson and left-handed reliever Eric O'Flaherty, who missed last season's final four months, the Braves' pitching staff will essentially be the same one that led the Majors with a 3.18 ERA last year. This rotation, which is anchored by Kris Medlen and Mike Minor, could prove to be even stronger if Brandon Beachy is healthy and Julio Teheran takes another step forward, coming off his impressive rookie season.

Beachy's frustrating attempt to return from Tommy John surgery was limited to the five starts he made before having to undergo a cleanup surgery in September. The veteran right-hander arrived in camp earlier this week without any restrictions. Now, Beachy will attempt to regain the successful form he had when he produced a Major League-best 2.00 ERA in the 13 starts he made before blowing out his elbow in June 2012.

In an effort to provide depth and insurance to their rotation, Atlanta provided a one-year deal to Gavin Floyd, who will be sidelined until at least May while recovering from elbow reconstruction surgery. With uncertainty surrounding Floyd, the club made a seemingly wise decision to also re-sign Freddy Garcia, the ageless veteran who nearly beat Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers in Game 4 of last year's NLDS.

With Craig Kimbrel set to extend his days as a dominant closer, the Braves' bullpen could once again be one of the game's best. Luis Avilan, Jordan Walden, and David Carpenter are also set to return to this relief corps that set a franchise record with a 2.46 bullpen ERA last year.

When the Braves open their Grapefruit League schedule with a Feb. 26 home game against the Tigers, they will be evaluating a number of pitchers who could fill what appears to be two available spots in the bullpen. Left-hander Ryan Buchter and righty Luis Vasquez seemingly have the potential to draw a lot of buzz as they compete for a spot.

----- Source: MLB.com


Friday Night Football Scores: Week Nine

Email your scores to  sports@chattanoogan.com . THURSDAY NIGHT FINAL: Monterey 50 Sale Creek 0 FRIDAY NIGHT FINALS: Copper Basin 38 Lookout Valley 0 Notre Dame 40 Coalfield 0 Boyd-Buchanan 24 Sequatchie County 14 Tyner 27 East Ridge 3 Hixson 33 Central 12 Bledsoe 33 Silverdale 7 Greeneville 31 Signal Mountain 10 Rhea County 42 East ... (click for more)

Christian Brothers Shuts Out Flames 2-0

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Surging Christian Brothers University handed the visiting Lee men's soccer team a 2-0 Gulf South Conference (GSC) defeat  on Friday  evening. It was the seventh straight victory by the Bucs who improved to 11-2 overall and 5-1 in conference play. The Flames dropped to 7-6-2 overall and 2-4-1 in league competition. Brendan Bennett put CBU on ... (click for more)

Additions And Improvements At Camp Jordan Arena Coming Soon

Additions and improvements are coming to Camp Jordan Arena in the near future. At the Thursday night meeting of the East Ridge city council, approval was given for buying new playground equipment. It will come from Gametime, a locally-based company. The VP of Marketing lives in East Ridge and made a proposal to set up the playground at Camp Jordan so his company could use it for ... (click for more)

Tribute Service For Luther Masingill Held At Historic Engel Stadium

It took a place as big as historic Engel Stadium for Chattanooga to say goodbye to their beloved Luther. Hundreds came Thursday afternoon to pay tribute to Luther Masingill who died early Monday morning after a radio career that spanned an amazing 74 years. It was clear from all who spoke that he was considered not only a radio personality, but also a role model. One after ... (click for more)

Not Everything Has Been Done To Save Hutcheson

I am a resident of Walker County and I have a personal belief that a hospital ranks equal to other basic services a community should offer (like police, fire, emergency services, school systems, government, etc.). I am not privy to all the management and financial conundrums concerning the feasibility of maintaining and growing Hutcheson, and as a private citizen I don’t believe ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Veterinarian’s Horse Sense

I suspect you’ve heard by now that a doctor in New York City, who volunteers with “Doctors Without Borders,” just got back from the African nation of Guinea on October 17 – last Friday – and on Thursday tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus. Luckily, he came in actual contact with only a few people but he reportedly rode a subway, took a taxi, went on a three-mile run and ... (click for more)