McBride Happy To Be On 40-Man

Braves minor league left-hander Macay McBride was added to the 40-man roster this weekend. He talks exclusively with BravesCenter's Bill Shanks about his new status in the organization.

It was about four o'clock Friday afternoon and Macay McBride was getting ready to go deer hunting. All of a sudden he got a call from Dayton Moore, Braves Director of Player Personnel.

"He said he was going to make my day better," McBride says. "They were putting me on the 40-man roster. He had some fun with it."

McBride, the Braves first round draft pick in 2001, knew the deadline was coming for the Braves to submit their 40-man roster. Not thinking about it is easier said than done, so he was anxious to hear the news.

"I tried to not make it that big of a deal," says McBride. "It was either going to happen or not. I wasn't assuming anything and I wasn't expecting it. I knew I had to earn it, so now it feels better for me to know that. I see it the Braves obviously feel confident in my ability. You can't be in the big leagues without being on the 40-man. So it's a step closer no matter how you look at it."

McBride was told back in spring training by the team there was a chance they might move him into the bullpen at some point in the 2004 season. It wasn't that they were disappointed in him or thought less of his ability, but not all of the Braves prospects can be starting pitchers. The numbers dictate that some are going to have to move to the bullpen. The Braves believed McBride, with his fiery attitude and intense nature on the mound, might be a perfect fit as a reliever.

So after 12 starts at AA Greenville, McBride made the move to the bullpen. His first appearance was somewhat ominous, allowing five runs in a third of an inning. But in his next 25 relief appearances, McBride gave the Braves reason to feel he might be close to being a major league reliever. Macay had a 1.88 the rest of the way out of the bullpen and finished with a 2.91 ERA overall as a reliever with 42 strikeouts in 43.1 innings pitched.

Year Team W-L






2001 Gulf Coast 4-4






2002 Macon 12-8






2003 Myrtle Beach 9-8






2004 Greenville 1-7






Then the Braves sent McBride to the Arizona Fall League. He went back to starting to simply get some innings. McBride made seven starts and went 0-1 with a 6.11 ERA in 28 innings pitched, 8 walks, and 29 strikeouts. Even though the numbers weren't great, McBride feels like he made tremendous progress out west.

"You don't get to throw a lot of innings," McBride says. "I gave up five runs on nine hits in my first start. The next five outings I threw the ball real well. I ended on a good note. I'm taking what I learned into the offseason and hopefully can take it into camp next year."

McBride worked on sharpening up his slider out in Arizona. He also worked on getting down the hill of the mound a little better in his delivery. The result was an increased velocity – usually in the 90-92 range and touching 94-95 mph.

"That gave me some confidence that I have the life in my arm that I had when I got drafted," he says. "One day a guy came in to me and said, ‘you're throwing hard.' I didn't know how hard I was throwing."

The competition in Arizona is tremendous, and it allows the team to see how well players do against better talent. McBride says he was anxious to see how well he did against some very tough hitters.

"A lot of people don't know how good the baseball is out there," he says. "But when you're facing nine guys who were some of the best in their leagues, that's competition. You have to be on your toes for all nine hitters and that's what the big leagues are all about. You can't let your guard down."

McBride admits that he still prefers to start, but reality tells him that the fastest way to get to Atlanta is through the bullpen. He says he has no trouble remaining in the pen if that is his ticket to the big leagues.

"There are a lot of good starting pitchers (in the system)," McBride admits. "I think I'm better as a starter. I feel more comfortable as a starter. It's more of a comfort thing. The quickest way is through the bullpen. Obviously you don't go into camp and not think you can make the club. If that doesn't happen, we'll regroup and do whatever the Braves need me to do."

But the thought of relieving is not as bothersome as it was to McBride when the Braves first mentioned it last spring. He proved to himself that he could be an effective reliever, and he thinks that confidence will give him the chance to show what he can do next March in Orlando.

"If I had never pitched out of the bullpen in AA, I wouldn't be thinking that," McBride says. "But since I did and pitched well last year, it proved to me that I could do it. It's an experience that I can take into camp and see where it goes."

Bill Shanks can be reached at

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