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


Bryan Softball Remians Undefeated In Conference Play

Looking to remain undefeated in Appalachian Athletic Conference Play, the Bryan College Lions Softball Team had already prevailed 4-1 in game one of Thursday’s home doubleheader against the Skyhawks of Point University (Ga.), but the clean slate came down to the bottom of the seventh inning in the second game. Trailing 4-3, Bryan starting pitcher, freshman Courtney Petty, kept ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: South Pittsburg Vs Columbia Academy In Owls Invitational

South Pittsburg met Columbia Academy Thursday at Central High’s field on the first day of the 2017 Ooltewah Invitational baseball tournament. Thirteen teams are participating in the weekend tournament at four different locations (click for more)

Officers Respond To Shooting On Pinewood Avenue

Chattanooga Police responded to a shooting in Brainerd on Thursday night. The call was to 3301 Pinewood Ave. at 7:05 p.m. It was reported that a silver vehicle was seen leaving the scene. Pinewood is off South Seminole. (click for more)

Judge Bales To Ask Governor Haslam For Disability Leave

General Sessions Court Judge Clarence Shattuck said he received a call from Judge David Bales Tuesday evening, saying he was in the process of preparing a letter to Governor Bill Haslam requesting he be placed on disability leave until he has received clearance from his doctor to return to the bench.   Judge Bales said that his doctors are preparing their recommendations ... (click for more)

Repeal Obamacare, Congressman Fleischmann - And Response (2)

Chuck: I'm writing to express my strong opposition to the plan that is being rolled out by Paul Ryan to replace Obamacare. And as I'm writing this, I'm remembering all the times you and all of your Republican colleagues over the last six years campaigned on REPEALING  Obamacare and used that call to action as the basis for your reelection. And I'm also remembering the ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: You, The Bald-Headed Lady

You were wearing a pretty sweat shirt and blue jeans when I saw you outside the Infusion Center at Erlanger Hospital on Wednesday. You were the one who was nearly bald and I was the guy you greeted with a huge smile as we said hello in passing. You reminded me exactly of my brother Franklin. Years ago when chemotherapy began to rob him of his hair, Franklin was pretty devastated ... (click for more)