Spring Training Preview: First Base

The Braves are counting on a former third baseman to be the man at first base.

First base has pretty much been a revolving door for the Atlanta Braves in the last decade. Here are the players who have led the team in starts there since 2000:

2009: Casey Kotchman
2008: Mark Teixeira
2007: Scott Thorman
2006: Adam LaRoche
2005: Adam LaRoche
2004: Adam LaRoche
2003: Robert Fick
2002: Julio Franco
2001: Rico Brogna
2000: Andres Galarraga

With the exception of the three years Adam LaRoche manned the position, first base has been a new name every year.

Chances are this year's first baseman will be a one-year wonder as well, with Troy Glaus brought in to play first until phenom Freddie Freeman is ready in 2011.

The Braves didn't want to spend a whole lot of money on first, since they do believe Freeman could be ready after one more full year in the minor leagues.

They checked into Xavier Nady, but instead went with Glaus, who missed most of last season with a shoulder injury.

Atlanta needs power from the first base position, and if Glaus is healthy he has showed he can be that type of hitter.

Out of Glaus' eleven seasons in the big leagues, he's played in 149 games or more seven times. And in those seven seasons, Glaus has averaged 35.5 home runs per year.

So if Glaus is healthy, he's going to hit home runs. There is no doubt the Braves need a legit cleanup hitter, and Glaus will be counted on for that role this season.

Now with Glaus having that shoulder issue, the Braves brought in Eric Hinske just in case they need a reinforcement at the position.

Hinske, the 2002 Rookie of the Year with Toronto, hit 8 home runs between Pittsburgh and the Yankees last season. Two years ago Hinske had 20 home runs for Tampa Bay. So if he is pressed into service, Hinske has the ability to be a productive hitter.

Martin Prado could move over from second base and play first if needed. Matt Diaz played two games at first in 2007, so that remains a possibility in an emergency.

Freeman is the long-term answer, but there is no doubt the Braves are counting on Glaus to be a tremendous part of the 2010 lineup.


Bill Shanks hosts The Bill Shanks Show on WFSM Fox Sports 1670 in Macon, Georgia and The Braves Show Talk Show. Shanks writes a weekly column for The Macon Telegraph. Email Bill at thebravesshow@email.com and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/billshanks.


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