R-Braves Notes: Porter re-working contract

BravesCenter Senior Columnist Jason Miller gives us his latest notes from the AAA Richmond Braves.

Opening of Braves Center

Well, I've spent three good years with the good people of Braves.net (now Bravesbeat.com), but felt it was time for a change this season. I'm expecting big things here at Braves Center, and look forward to being a big part of the progress of the site. You'll be getting the same news you've gotten from me in previous seasons and some new never before-used features. Well, lets get on with my first column.

Less Than 7 Days Away

In less than a week we'll be underway with the 2003 Richmond Braves season. The Richmond Braves will open things up on April 3rd in Charlotte, South Carolina. The Braves are yet to announce their opening day starter, but Pat Kelly says he'll reward a veteran with the start. It's interesting to note that April 3rd in Charlotte will be Cal Ripken Jr day at the parkand he will be on hand.

As for the Charlotte Knights themselves, after finishing last in the south last season they are expected to have a much improved ball squad. Richmond hopes to get off on the winning track by beating their south division rival in the first of 18 meetings. The Braves will play 4 with the Knights then two with the Durham Bulls before heading home.

April 1st Open Practice

The Richmond Braves will head to the Diamond for the first time on Tuesday April 1st and will be participating in a free open practice. The practice will start at 5:45 and be open to the general public. Lets hopes it not as eventful as last seasons when Wilson Betemit went down with his back injury, which kept him out several weeks.

Hessman to Play First

If Mike Hessman is cut from the Atlanta Roster as expected Pat Kelly has said that he would take over first base duties in Richmond. Hessman has been training to be able to play both first and third for the upcoming season. Kelly says that he hopes Hessman will provide great defense, but he does realize this will be his first year playing a lot of first base. All I have to say is that chances are it will beat the defense provided for a few games last year by Ozzie Timmons.

Porter Having Contract Reworked

The Braves and Bo Porter are trying to work on a deal which would give him the option of becoming a free agent if he's not in Atlanta come May 15th. Porter will likely be optioned to Richmond this weekend, as Darren Bragg has locked up the last spot in Atlanta's OF. Porter says by putting the clause in it does not mean he wants out, but it does mean he'll have some options come May 15th. It's actually the same clause that Darren Bragg had in his contract last season.

Another player that may get this treatment is Donzell McDonald who has had a very good spring. There was a lot of talk that McDonald would turn down the AAA assignment, but he has indicated in the past few days he's at least open to heading to Richmond. If they can get Porter/Hollins/McDonald in that Richmond OF then I'd have to say it'd be among the leagues best.

Jesse Garcia Heading to Richmond?

It seems that Jesse Garcia will begin his third yearwith the Richmond Braves on Thursday afternoon. Garcia while still in contention for the final roster spot in Atlanta will probably be shipped out to AAA. The Richmond Braves have recently released several players presumably making room for Garcia. However, Garcia is likely to play the role of super sub as both Ramon Castro and Nick Green (most likely) are going to be starting in the Richmond infield.

Michael Hubbard Makes the Team

Mike Hubbard will have the chance again to play close to home again as the Braves have told the veteran catcher he will be backing up Johnny Estrada. Afterhe spent the 2002 season as a member of the Rochester Redwings, Hubbard was looking to play closer to his Lynchburg; VA home especially after his wife had their 2nd child. Hubbard last caught for the Richmond Braves during the 2000 season.

Who will DH to Start the Season?

Right now, it appears as if Jesse Garcia and Travis Wilson will spilt duties as the DH for Richmond. Now, I know your saying it's not even certain either of them will be on Richmond's opening day roster. However, if not look for the Braves to give Lee Evans(who would only make the roster if both Wilson/Garcia weren't on it) some chances at it.

Players Let Go

The Braves said goodbye this week to Glen Barker, Scott Sobkowiak, and Jamie Arnold. The three all came close to making the Richmond roster, but just couldn't cut the final mustard if you will. Barker is close to deciding retirement it appears and Arnold may choose the same option. However, look for Scott to catch on with another AAA team in hopes of catching what he had before his surgery.

Jason

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