PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. – The Braves’ defense Saturday was as clunky as the name of the New York Mets’ rebranded spring-training home, Digital Domain Park.
Five errors in an 8-2 road loss to the Mets raised the Braves’ spring total to 32 errors in 31 Grapefruit League games. Their 126 errors during the 2010 season was one shy of tying Washington and Pittsburgh for most in the National League.
“Hopefully it was just one of those games in spring training,” Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said Saturday. “We’ve been really good. This is only the second game in spring training that I can think of where we were sluggish, where we weren’t crisp.”
Five errors set a single-game high for the Braves this spring, topping the four miscues in a March 15 game against the Cardinals in Jupiter, Fla.
Rookie outfielder Wilkin Ramirez didn’t help his bid for an opening-day roster spot with two errors on consecutive plays in the three-run first inning. He made a bad throw, then a fielding error that allowed David Wright to go to third base on a single.
Brooks Conrad’s fielding troubles continued when a grounder got by him into left field for a two-out error in the third inning. The Braves had errors by third baseman Joe Mather and relief pitcher Jonny Venters in the sixth inning.
“It seems like it’s kind of contagious,” Gonzalez said. “But what are you going to do? We’re going to go tomorrow, and the day after…”
Conrad has a team-high five errors this spring, this after his infamous three-error game in a division-series loss against San Francisco last year. That capped a seven-game stretch in which the bench player made eight errors after being thrust into a starting role.
Conrad could still make the team this spring after leading the Braves in several clutch-hitting categories last season.
Rookie first baseman Freddie Freeman and bench candidate Matt Young had two hits apiece for the Braves. Young is batting .293 with a .412 on-base percentage. All of his 12 hits have been singles…. The Braves’ eight hits Saturday included seven singles and Freeman’s first-inning double off Mike Pelfrey…. Venters did not allow a run – earned or otherwise – in nine spring appearances until Saturday, when the Mets scored an unearned run in the sixth inning on a Jose Reyes double and fielding errors by Venters and Mather. Venters has allowed three hits and three walks in 10 innings.