The Braves announced their Opening Day roster Friday night during the game at Turner Field against the Chicago White Sox. Not surprisingly, there were no surprises.
John Smoltz will again anchor the pitching staff, with Tim Hudson, Chuck James, Mark Redman, and hopefully Lance Cormier behind him. Cormier, who had a shoulder pinch earlier this week, will throw a bullpen session Sunday and the Braves believe he'll be ready to make his first start a week from Saturday against the Mets.
Mike Hampton and Tanyon Sturtze were both placed on the 15-day disabled list. Hampton is well ahead of schedule from his oblique strain he suffered early in spring training. The Braves are hopeful Hampton can be ready sometime in May.
Kyle Davies was optioned to Richmond. Even with a decent spring, Davies got caught in a numbers game. The young right-hander missed most of last season with groin surgery, so the Braves believe it will help him to get some innings in the minors. He'll be joined in the Richmond rotation by Buddy Carlysle, who was reassigned to minor league camp.
The bullpen will once again be led by Bob Wickman, with newly acquired relievers Mike Gonzalez and Rafael Soriano right behind him. Macay McBride will again be the top lefty specialist.
There was some discussion about the last three spots in the bullpen, but the Braves went with the three favorites: Chad Paronto, Tyler Yates, and Oscar Villarreal. Peter Moylan was sent to Triple-A Richmond.
Brayan Pena held off Corky Miller to be Brian McCann's backup behind the plate.
The only other spot that was up for grabs was the backup infield position, and with Willy Aybar headed to the disabled list with a bruised wrist Pete Orr will get the job. Orr has been a reserve for the last two years for Atlanta. He gets the job over Martin Prado and Yunel Escobar, who are both headed to AAA Richmond.
Youngsters Scott Thorman and Kelly Johnson join veterans Edgar Renteria and Chipper Jones in the infield. Along with Orr, veterans Craig Wilson and Chris Woodward will be infield reserves.
And the four outfielders return from last season: Andruw Jones, Jeff Francoeur, Ryan Langerhans, and Matt Diaz.
The Braves finish the exhibition season Saturday at Turner Field against the Chicago White Sox. Then they fly to Philadelphia for a workout Sunday morning before the start of the season Monday at 1:05 ET.
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. He can be heard on 680 the Fan in Atlanta, 105.5 the Fan in Macon, and the Atlanta Braves Radio Network. Email Bill at email@example.com.
No surprises on Atlanta's Opening Day roster
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