Spring Training Blog - March 18

Bill Shanks has the latest from The Ballpark at Disney's Wide World of Sports.

Saturday, March 18 - 11:19 am

On the back fields this morning, right-hander Matt Wright threw a live batting practice. He is coming back from trouble with his forearm. Wright looked good. He threw only fastballs and changeups, but he looked sharp. They are slowly working him back into a normal routine.

Frenchy's back! I saw Jeff Francoeur in the outfield this morning. I asked him if he had fun in the WBC, and he said he "had a blast." It's good to get him back. Time to get him some AB's. Jeff is starting in today's game, batting sixth in right field.

Macay McBride told me he's going to take a few more days off, but he expects to be ready to pitch Wednesday at the latest. He feels good. His forearm just flares up a bit, but there are no worries at all. Just normal spring training stuff after throwing a lot.

James Jurries is starting at first base, and Brian Jordan in left field for the second straight game today. Let's hope that's an indication that Jurries is locking up the backup first base job.

After John Thomson throws here at Disney, he'll be followed by Travis Smith and Pete Moylan, the kid from Australia signed last weekend. I'll be in Kissimmee with the minor leaguers, but I'll try to get a report on how Moylan does.

The minor league games start today. The Single-A teams will be here at Disney, while the Double-A and Triple-A teams are in Kissimmee. I'll be heading there to watch our older kids. Chris Waters and Kevin Barry are two of the pitchers going for the AAA team, while Jake Stevens and Jason Paul are going for the AA team. I'll have a report later in the day.

Saturday, March 18 - 4:17 pm

Just got back from the AAA and AA minor league games in Kissimmee. Don't ask me who won. I was bouncing back and forth from field to field to watch the pitchers, which as you know, is important to me.

Our pitchers did really well. For the AAA team, Damian Moss went two scoreless innings and had two strikeouts. Mossy looks pretty good. I'm not sure if this guy is a AAAA pitcher or what. He looks like a fringe guy, which truthfull, was what he was the year he won 12 games for us in 2002.

Kevin Barry went next and had two scoreless innings of work. KB struck out four batters. He's a big league pitcher. This guy is going to pitch in the big leagues one day. I hope it's for us, but if not, I know he'll do well.

Brad Baker pitched two scoreless innings and had one strikeout. Brad's trying to show he can pitch again after having a tough spring in big league camp. Hopefully, he can do well in Richmond and show he can contribute.

Chris Waters gave up one run on a couple of hits in his first inning, but then got 'em one, two, three in his second inning. And Manny Acosta was throwing smoke in the 9th inning against the Astros.

Jake Stevens started for the AA team and gave up a solo home run in his two innings of work. Nate Pudewell pitched 1.1 innings and gave up several hits and a run. Pudewell has changed his delivery and his velocity is down (upper 80s). He's still learning how to pitch.

Rudy Quinonez was next and went 1.2 innings and got out of some trouble in the 4th. Bryan Digby then came in and pitched two scoreless innings. "Digs" struck out the side in his first inning of work. He's now a sidearmer, and his velocity is down. Digby is really pitching now, instead of just throwing gas by people. He looks good.

J.C. Holt had a RBI single in the AA game. Not much offense from either team.

A trivia answer was at the game today coaching for Houston. Who was the last manager of the Braves before Bobby Cox? It was Russ Nixon, a minor league instructor for the Astros.

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 thebravesshow@email.com.

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