Green Trade Opens Up Spot for Pete Orr

In another late spring training trade, Braves' General Manager John Schuerholz traded second baseman Nick Green to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays Thursday morning for reliever Jorge Sosa. BravesCenter's Bill Shanks examines the deal and talks with the man that will likely replace Green on the 25-man roster.

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It wasn't easy for John Schuerholz to trade Nick Green. He's a Georgia boy, one nurtured and groomed in the Braves' minor league system. And there's no doubt he saved this team last year from who knows what kind of terrible situation.

Nick Green made Jesse Garcia unwanted and unnecessary, but on Thursday Green probably felt the same way when he was traded to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for reliever Jorge Sosa.

"Anytime you have to trade a player like Nick Green, someone of his caliber, both as a player and as a person, it's tough," Schuerholz said in a hastily called press conference in the press box of Disney's Wide World of Sports before Atlanta's spring finale against Houston.

The Braves had been looking for a reliever all spring. Since Wilson Betemit and Pete Orr are both rookies, the more proven commodity in Green had more value. For a team like the Devil Rays looking for a second baseman, the sophomore was the easy choice. But again, Green was not easy to part with.

Schuerholz said that Green was, "a local youngster and a guy who grew up and worked his way through our organization and really if you recall was pretty much an unknown to the outside world until he came to Atlanta last year and stepped in for Marcus Giles and played spectacularly. He did a great job for us."

However the need for a reliever for the bullpen far outweighed Schuerholz's affection for Green. Tom Martin has been horrible this spring, and the man who looked like he was the perfect long-man earlier in the spring, former Tigers and Rockies' starter Adam Bernero, has struggled. So the need for a hard-throwing reliever was there for the second year in a row, and this year Sosa fit the bill.

"Here's a guy with a power arm," said John Schuerholz. "We needed somebody like that to give us a stronger bridge from our starters, who as I told you yesterday I believe will go deeper into games than our starters of the past and get us to our closer. Sosa helps do that. We feel really good about our bullpen right now."

The trade of Green to Tampa Bay opens up a spot for rookie Pete Orr, who hit .250 in Florida with 2 home runs and 11 runs batted in. Orr, who mostly was a reserve during his minor league career, was somewhat torn in his emotions after hearing that his good friend had been traded.

"My stomach is still kind of rumbling for Nick a little bit," Orr said as he got on the bus headed to the Orlando airport. "We're close friends. With Nick being from Atlanta, it's tough. But I think it'll be a good situation for him in Tampa Bay."

The Braves haven't told Orr he's going to be on the Atlanta roster come next Tuesday; that'll probably happen after Saturday's exhibition game against Cleveland. But he is smart enough to realize that unless another move is made before then, the job is his.

"It's unbelievable," he said. "I couldn't be more excited. But it was a weird day, that's for sure."

Pete Orr was a non-drafted free agent signed by the Braves in July of 1999. Coming into last year he had a career minor league batting average of .244, and he had never had more than 356 at bats in a single season. But a .320 average in 460 at bats in Richmond last year caught the attention of everyone in the Braves' organization and convinced him that he was capable of being a big leaguer.

"Going through the lower levels, I really wasn't sure of myself," Orr admits. "When I started to feel sure of myself I started playing a lot better. Then I was like, 'What was I doing for four years?' Last year as the year went on I stayed consistent and I knew I could do this. I started believing more in myself and I think that helped my game."

The Braves believed in him enough to place him on the 40-man roster and give him a tryout this spring. But his average this spring was probably not what won him the job. Orr's hustle is similar to that of Charles Thomas, a player that electrified the Braves last season. He's also very versatile, able to play second, short, third, and occasionally in the outfield. Orr showed the Braves how he would be able to help them, and that allowed them to trade the player he replaced in Richmond's starting lineup last season.

"I was so excited with all the opportunities I got," Orr said of his 52 at bats this spring. "It was my first big league camp, so it was just exciting being here everyday and being around the players. You couldn't meet a nicer person than Bobby Cox. So I'm pretty happy with the way it's gone."

Pat Kelly, Orr's manager in Richmond last season, says that "if you liked Charles Thomas, you're going to love Pete Orr." He's just the kind of player that helps your team win ballgames, whether it's as a defensive replacement, a pinch-runner, or as a bat off the bench. Yes, the Braves need Andruw and Chipper and other starters to play big roles this season, but it's the Pete Orrs and Nick Greens of the world that will also help you win ballgames.

Green's gone now, but Orr is more than able to pick up the baton and become a valuable member of this Atlanta roster.

Bill Shanks has a new book out later this month on the Braves' scouting and player development philosophies called Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team. He can be reached at thebravesshow@email.com


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