Spring Training Blog - February 23

BravesCenter's Bill Shanks continues his coverage from Disney's Wide World of Sports with some notes from Thursday's workout. Are there two new candidates for the backup to Adam LaRoche at first base?

Lake Buena Vista, Florida

The Braves hit the field a bit later than normal, as Players' Union chief Donald Fehr met with the team with his annual speech. Fehr updated the players on the collective bargaining agreement, which expires between the players and owners after this season.

John Smoltz (caught by Heap) threw a live bullpen today and looked good. Also throwing: Lance Cormier (Salty), Horacio Ramirez (Eddie Perez), Chad Paronto (Sammons), Chris Reitsma, Chuck James, and Mike Remlinger.

James told me his back is okay. He pulled a muscle a few days ago in his lower back area and missed a day. After a little pain medication, he was good to go today. James said his location was a little off, but other than that he felt fine. Chuckie James is not sure if the Braves are looking at him as a starter or a reliever for the upcoming season.

Mike Remlinger did not look very good in his live BP today. Most of the hitters had trouble against the other pitchers, but they hit a few out on Remlinger, who is battling with Chuck James, John Foster, and Macay McBride for the lefty bullpen spots.

Foster, by the way, is ready to come back in our chatroom. He said we'd do it sometime this March. I guess he enjoyed talking with you guys for five hours back in December!

I'll have more about Horacio's performance in another article, but I will say it was good to see Roger McDowell encourage Horacio the way he did. You can tell he's really trying to support the players.

Todd Pratt seems like the perfect backup catcher. He talks a lot with Brian McCann, and while he's learning the pitchers, he's pretty well versed on what is expected of someone that plays his position.

Okay, here's some scoop that will be interesting. James Jurries was in the outfield today after starting out at first base during infield practice. And then when he went to the outfield, there were two wildcards for the backup first base position: Eddie Perez and Brian Jordan. Yes, they had first base gloves on and were serious. They weren't just messing around during batting practice. They were there for a reason. I guess we should put them in that battle for the backup position, along with Jurries, David Kelton, and Matt Diaz. I have not seen Diaz play at first yet, since he was on the back field.

But Brian Jordan is not hitting very well in BP so far. He fouled a lot of balls off in the cage. So when the games start, I'll be interested to see how Jordan does offensively.

And, finally, the rumor is that Arthur Blank put in an offer of between $260-$275 million for the Braves, but that it was rejected. There was some thought today that Blank would try to get additional local investors involved and only own 51% of the team, but who knows what will happen. Evidently, Mr. Blank does not have the endless deep pockets we believed he had (although he could probably buy and sell everyone of us, right?). And if that's the case, maybe it's better that he does not buy the team. We don't need an owner that is too spread out financially.

Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional scouting and player development philosophies. You can email Bill at thebravesshow@email.com.

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