Thursday, March 2 - 3:48 pm
Vero Beach, Florida
The hot sun was shining down on Holman Stadium today as the Atlanta Braves opened up the Grapefruit League schedule against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Braves made a few errors in the field, but the pitching was superb.
Braves' starter Jorge Sosa wrapped up his pre-WBC training camp with a decent outing. He didn't get much support in the field, as the Braves made a few errors behind him. Plus, he was hit twice with line drives back to the box. Sosa still has an edge in the battle for a rotation spot, despite now leaving for three weeks for the WBC.
Lance Cormier pitched two scoreless innings and was very impressive. Bobby Cox had said Cormier has a good curveball, and he wasn't fooling. Cormier looked in control for his two innings, and he probably has a good shot at one of the seven bullpen spots.
Kevin Barry pitched one scoreless inning and was impressive. Barry is one of those pitchers that if he was with another organization, he'd probably be a favorite to make the major league roster. But with Atlanta, he's in a heated battle with about seven other pitchers for one of the remaining spots in the Braves' bullpen.
Macay McBride was next, and I think it's safe to say McBride is pretty much a lock to be one of the lefties in the Braves' bullpen. McBride breezed through his two innings of work. And finally, Joey Devine pitched the eighth inning. If Devine pitches like he did today, he's got an excellent chance at being in the bullpen. He was outstanding. The Dodgers didn't have their starters in there, but Devine certainly did have an impressive outing.
There are just too many pitchers in camp with a legit shot at making this bullpen. I don't know how they are going to decide on these guys. Tomorrow the Dodgers come to Disney. Scheduled to pitch for Atlanta: John Thomson, Mike Remlinger, Wes Obermueller, Chuck James, Brad Baker, and Anthony Lerew. Isn't it interesting that Lerew is scheduled to throw last?
If I had to guess right now, I'd say the bullpen looks like this: Chris Reitsma, Macay McBride, Joey Devine, John Foster, Lance Cormier, Oscar Villarreal, and Brad Baker. But it's way early.
Tim Hudson will take on Roy Oswalt on Saturday in Kissimmee. John Smoltz makes his spring debut Sunday against the Netherlands' WBC team. And in the other split squad game Sunday, Kyle Davies takes on the Indians in Winter Haven.
One thing that was fun to watch, from the fourth row behind the Braves' dugout, was Roger McDowell. After every pitcher finished their inning, McDowell went down and talked with the pitcher for a few minutes. In the past, Leo Mazzone would have never spoken at length with his pitchers in the first Grapefruit League game. But McDowell is very involved, which is refreshing to the pitchers on this staff.
Offensively, there was not much to shout about Thursday. Todd Pratt doubled in Wilson Betemit early on, and that was about it. James Jurries walked with the bases loaded to get Atlanta's second run home.
And I've got to give Nomar Garciaparra credit. He looked good at first base. Nomar made two nice plays, and his footwork around first was very good.
So we're 0-1. The streak has got to be in jeopardy!
Bill Shanks is the author of Scout's Honor: The Bravest Way To Build A Winning Team, a look inside the Braves‘ traditional front office philosophies. Email Bill at email@example.com.
Spring Training Blog - March 2
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