Archive for the ‘Buzz’ Category

Gattis, Graham among spring training non-roster invitees

Left field hopeful Evan Gattis and a top pitching prospect J.R. Graham are among the 21 non-roster invitees the Braves will bring to spring training when camp opens in early February – a list the club announced Thursday.

Gattis made quite a splash with his spring training invitation last season, raising eyebrows among Braves teammates and manager Fredi Gonzalez with his home run-hitting prowess. He will look to continue the work he started in winter ball, hitting 16 home runs in Venezuela. He has a chance to make the Braves bench as a potential part-time left fielder and backup catcher.

This will be the first time in big league camp for Graham, the right-hander with a mid-to-upper 90s fastball who was named the Braves organizational pitcher of the year for 2012 in September.

Also among the first-time invitees are last year’s second round pick from the University of Georgia left-hander Alex Wood, standout shortstop from the University of Connecticut Nick Ahmed and third …

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Braves vs. Phillies in Opening Night game on ESPN2

The Braves’ April 1 regular-season opener against Philadelphia at Turner Field will start at 7 p.m. and be carried by ESPN2 as part of Opening Night prime-time doubleheader.

It will mark just the second time in nine seasons that the Braves have opened at home. They start the season with a pair of three-game series against the Phillies and Chicago Cubs at Turner Field, before hitting the road for a six-game trip to Miami and Washington.

There’s an open date built into the schedule April 2 in case of an opening-game rainout. The Day 2 open date has become standard around baseball, so that teams don’t potentially have to give out a huge number of rainchecks to sellout or near-sellout crowds on opening day.

The 2012 Braves finished second in the NL East behind Washington with a 94-68 record, tied for fourth-best in the majors. Their postseason ended abruptly when the Braves lost to St. Louis in the inaugural NL Wild Card game, the first one-game playoff since the addition of …

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Braves sign utility infielder Pena

The Braves added another bench piece Thursday, signing utility infielder Ramiro Pena to a one-year major league contract.

Pena, a former New York Yankee who has played shortstop, third base, and second base, provides the Braves another backup shortstop given the uncertainty of when Paul Janish might return. Janish, whom the Braves also signed to a one-year deal, underwent surgery for a torn labrum on his non-throwing shoulder and might need an additional two to four weeks at the start of the season.

Janish has minor league options remaining and could be sent to Triple-A Gwinnett without going through waivers. Pena is out of options.

Like Janish, Pena is outstanding defensively. And the Braves don’t have another near major-league ready player in their organization who fits that profile.

Tyler Pastornicky began last season as the starting shortstop but struggled defensively and was sent to the minors in late May in favor of defensive whiz Andrelton Simmons. Pastornicky …

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Braves balk at some trade ‘ask’ prices

NASHVILLE – They still were working several possibilities, but as the last full day at the Winter Meetings wore on Wednesday it sounded as if the Braves might leave Nashville without making a deal for a left fielder or bench help.

“Last night we started exchanging names more and getting information, and some of the ‘asks’ were beyond what we were comfortable doing,” Braves general manager Frank Wren said. “So we crossed some conversations off the list. We still have a couple of open conversations, but I’d say we had probably four or five more specific conversations going on and we were able to cross a couple of those off last night because of the high ‘ask.’ We’re still continuing to talk with a couple of others.”

Wren doesn’t divulge specific players the Braves are pursuing, but it was known they explored potential trades for outfielders including Arizona’s Justin Upton, Colorado’s Dexter Fowler, Cleveland’s Shin-Soo Choo and Kansas City’s Alex …

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Braves extend Fredi G through ‘14 (updated)

NASHVILLE – Fredi Gonzalez has managed the Braves for the first two seasons of the post-Bobby Cox era, and was assured of being paid to manage at least two more after the team picked up a 2014 option on his contract Wednesday.

“It’s great organization, people you want to work for and people you get along with,” Gonzalez said. “And the one goal is to keep putting a good team on the field. “

Gonzalez has a 183-141 record as Braves manager since being hired to replace his mentor, Bobby Cox, who retired after the 2010 season.

“We think he did a terrific job of leading us to the playoffs,” Wren said of Gonzalez, who managed the Braves to a 94-68 record and wild-card berth in 2012. “We feel like his leadership is very helpful for our ballclub going forward, to stay competitive.”

Gonzalez, who’ll turn 49 in January, has a 459-420 record as a major league manager with the Braves and Marlins. A former third-base coach on Cox’s Braves staff, he spent 3-1/2 seasons as …

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Kimbrel plans to pitch for Team USA

NASHVILLE — Craig Kimbrel is planning to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic in March, meaning the All-Star closer could miss a couple of weeks of Braves spring training if Team USA advances to the championship round.

Braves pitchers and catchers report to spring training Feb. 11, and their Grapefruit League opener is Feb. 22. Team USA’s players will have a March 4-6 training camp before playing first-round games March 8-10 in Phoenix.

Braves general manager Frank Wren said he didn’t think it would be a problem, and that there would be plenty of communication with a Team USA staff that includes manager Joe Torre and three former Braves as coaches: Dale Murphy, Greg Maddux and Gerald Perry. Maddux will serve as pitching coach.

“I think we’re coming in early enough [for spring training] that by the time they have to actually perform [in the WBC], you feel pretty good about it,” Wren said. “And I probably feel better about a closer than a starter in this …

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Braves sign Janish to 1-year contract

NASHVILLE – The Braves quietly avoided arbitration with backup infielder Paul Janish, signing the veteran earlier in the offseason to a one-year contract believed to be worth a little less than $1 million.

The deal went unannounced and came about after Janish agreed to put off having shoulder surgery so he would potentially be available to play for the Braves if they advanced deep into the postseason.

He had surgery on his left (non-throwing) shoulder soon after their loss to St. Louis in the NL wild card game. Braves general manager Frank Wren said Janish might be back by late April, but they won’t have a better idea of the timetable until spring training.

Janish hit just .186 with a .269 on-base percentage and career-worst .502 OPS in 55 games for the Braves, but was a valuable contributor with steady defense at shortstop while filling in for injured rookie Andrelton Simmons. The Braves got Janish from Cincinnati in a trade after Simmons broke his hand sliding in the last …

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Newest Brave Upton excited about fresh start

B.J. Upton finalized a five-year, $75.25 million contract with the Braves makes him the highest-paid player in franchise history, but his dad Manny was most pleased that he signed with Atlanta, a short flight from the family’s home in Chesapeake, Va.

“Put a little word in Frank’s ear so we can get the other one here,” Manny Upton said after a news conference Thursday at Turner Field, where center fielder B.J. donned a Braves jersey and posed for pictures with his new manager, Fredi Gonzalez, and general manager Frank Wren, who gave him the largest free-agent contract in franchise history.

Manny and Yvonne Upton were smiling, proud parents on the day their 28-year-old son put Tampa Bay behind him and started with a clean slate and a team that moved aggressively.

The “other one” that Manny Upton spoke of bringing to Atlanta? That’s Justin Upton, 25, the Diamondbacks slugger who finished fourth in MVP balloting in 2011 and has been mentioned in trade rumors that …

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Ahmed is Braves’ latest rising shortstop

PHOENIX — Told that a reporter in from Atlanta was here to interview him, Nick Ahmed looked up for a second, said OK, but didn’t rush to finish a card game the Braves shortstop prospect was playing with a Phoenix Desert Dogs teammate.

He’s young (22), but cool. Can’t seem too enthusiastically eager-to-please, you know?

This was last Saturday morning in Phoenix, heading into the fifth and final week of an Arizona Fall League season in which Ahmed has drawn attention from plenty of major league scouts, who often account for about 10 percent of the 200 or so folks in the seats for a 12:35 p.m. AFL game.

He had two triples in his first two at-bats Wednesday against Surprise and carried a .288 average, .361 on-base percentage and seven extra-base hits (one homer) in 73 at-bats before Thursday’s season finale. Ahmed had 10 RBIs and five stolen bases in 19 games, and 11 strikeouts gave him one of the lowest K rates in the league.

“He’s come out here and opened some eyes, …

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Braves lose catcher Ross to Red Sox

PHOENIX – The Braves have lost valuable backup catcher David Ross to the Boston Red Sox, who nearly doubled the free agent’s salary with a two-year, $6.2 million contract.

The deal won’t be announced until after Ross passes a physical exam, and neither Ross nor officials with the Braves or Red Sox was likely to comment until then. Ross and team officials confirmed the pending deal.

With starting catcher Brian McCann expected to miss the first 2-4 weeks of the 2013 season recovering from Oct. 16 shoulder surgery, the Braves will look for another veteran catcher to help handle the position until the six-time former All-Star is ready. The Braves recently picked up McCann’s $12 million option for 2013, but he’ll be eligible for free agency after that.

Ross is widely regarded as the best backup catcher in baseball, and the Braves valued him a great deal both on the field and in the clubhouse, where he was one of the team’s most respected members during his time in …

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