March 20, 2013; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; A grounds crew worker paints a line on the field before the spring training game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and Atlanta Braves at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Braves Are One Week Away

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Some may say that next Monday should be a national holiday, some may give the boss the “sick” excuse but for any instance baseball fans will gleam a sign of relief that games will begin to matter.  In one week, the Atlanta Braves will suite up to take on the Philadelphia Phillies on opening day of the 2013 regular season.

The Texas Rangers take on the Houston Astros on Easter Sunday night to kick off the season opener.  Then on Monday, games start at 1:05pm (ET) and continue throughout the day but the Braves first pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm.  Tim Hudson will take the ball against Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels next Monday at Turner Field.

The Braves currently lead the National League in the standings with an 18-13 record but this doesn’t mean much of anything.  They have five games remaining on the schedule versus Monday the Mets, Tuesday the Tigers, Wednesday the Nationals, Thursday the Astros and Saturday they will play against a team filled with the Braves future players coached by Bobby Cox.

Mar 21, 2013; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves third baseman Juan Francisco (25) and first baseman Chris Johnson (23) celebrate after scoring in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

With the third base positional battle decided by Fredi Gonzalez as a platoon role, now the question is who gets the opening day start.  Juan Francisco has three plate appearances against Hamels going 1-2 with a single and a RBI sacrifice fly.  While Chris Johnson has seen Hamels six times going 2-6 with two singles.  He also was a victim to two strikeouts against Hamels.  With both having excellent spring trainings, it’s hard to tell which direction Gonzalez will go on April 1st.  Just a gut feeling, I believe even with a lefty starting on the mound, the Braves will go with Francisco to get the nod but Johnson will see some action either pinch hitting for the pitcher or coming in at third.

Another note, Gerald Laird has been battling the injury bug and hasn’t played since last Sunday.  Gonzalez mentioned he may not be ready for opening day, so this could open the door for Evan Gattis to start at catcher.

March 22, 2013; Clearwater, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves catcher Evan Gattis (68) hits a solo home run during the sixth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Bright House Networks Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

My projected opening day lineup

1. Andrelton Simmons

2. Jason Heyward

3. Justin Upton

4. Freddie Freeman

5. B.J. Upton

6. Dan Uggla

7. Juan Francisco

8. Evan Gattis

9. Tim Hudon (P)

 

 

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