March 26, 2013; Lakeland, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves center fielder B.J. Upton (middle) laughs with left fielder Justin Upton (8) prior to the game against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Morning Chop: Braves News 4/1


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

J-Hey gets Chipper’s locker; Gattis could start Game 2

March 26, 2013; Lakeland, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward (22) prior to the game against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The space belonged to Chipper Jones for the past four years, and to John Smoltz before him. So with Jones retired, there was anticipation as to whom would be assigned the Braves locker stall for 2013, the one next to a hallway that leads to the training room and other areas off-limits to media.

The choice seemed appropriate: Jason Heyward.


Gattis in lineup Wednesday? Veteran Gerald Laird will catch Tim Hudson on opening day, but manager Fredi Gonzalez said he might give start rookie catcher Evan Gattis in the second game.

“I was thinking about running him in there on Wednesday right off the bat,” Gonzalez said. “He’ll be fine.”



Braves plan several festivities for fans on opening day

The Braves will open their season against the Philadelphia Phillies at home Monday at 7:10 p.m. Braves legend Chipper Jones will throw out the ceremonial first pitch.

Georgia Southern University’s Southern Pride Marching Band will be part of opening night with the Atlanta Braves.

….Country music star Rodney Atkins will perform at 5:20 p.m. at the Fan Plaza at Turner Field. Atkins will sing the national anthem while four T-6s for the Dixie Wing of the Commemorative Air Force perform a flyover.

Atlanta opera singer Tim Miller will sing God Bless America in the seventh inning. Mallory Hagan, 2013 Miss America, will lead the crowd in singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

Gates at Turner Field will open at 4:30 p.m. Fans are encouraged to be in their seats by 6:20 p.m. to enjoy pregame festivities.



Opening Day 2013: Philadelphia Phillies vs. Atlanta Braves Preview

March 26, 2013; Lakeland, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Tim Hudson (15) reacts after pitching against the Detroit Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Although Chipper Jones has retired, the Braves have the promise of winning days ahead.  In terms of outfields, they arguably have the best in baseball.

Newly acquired brothers, B.J. Upton and Justin Upton, along with Jason Heyward could all be explosive at the plate.   Industrial size vacuum cleaners could not do a better job gobbling up balls in the outfield.  And at ages 23, 25 and 28 they’ll have years to make their mark.

The 2013 season,  however, largely hinges on how superlative the Braves pitching staff performs.  Seasoned veteran Tim Hudson will lead their staff.

The good news for Braves fans is that Hudson continues to pitch better than he did before his Tommy John surgery four years ago.

Following Hudson in the rotation will be Paul MaholmKris MedlenMike Minor and Julio Teheran.  The depth of the Braves pitching staff has almost no equal in major league baseball especially when you consider reliever Craig Kimbrel.

Kimbrel plays on another planet.  His 16.7 strikeouts per nine innings pace raises the question why he doesn’t actually pitch the entire game instead of one or two innings in relief?

The schedule makers have given Phillies and Braves fans an Opening Day show that may set the tone for the rest of the 2013 season.  It should be a great game to launch the Phillies pennant hopes.  Let’s “Play Ball”!



Atlanta Braves to Field Platoons at Catcher and Third Base

Brian McCann looks to be out for most of April as he fully recovers from shoulder surgery that was long overdue. That leads to the backup catcher that was signed this off-season, Gerald Laird, seemingly getting most of the playing time. Then in spring training we saw the emergence of Evan Gattis at the catcher position as well as with his bat. He played well enough that Fredi Gonzalez just can’t keep him on the bench. All of that ends up in a Laird / Gattis share of the catcher position. It isn’t a standard platoon but still it is the same basic result.

The other is at third base. After Chipper Jones retired and Martin Prado was traded, that left newcomer Chris Johnson and prospect Juan Francisco fighting for the starting job. Nobody won. Luckily for the Braves nobody won because they both played great baseball. Neither has shown a reason not to play as much as possible so that will result in a straight lefty / righty platoon at the hot corner.

The catcher platoon makes good sense until McCann comes back. What happens then is up to Gattis’ play over the first month I would assume. It is the only sensible thing for Gonzalez to do. At third base, I like that as well. I think both players could handle everyday work at third but if both can handle a platoon and coming off of the bench in games they don’t start, there is no good reason not to play them both. I think under the circumstances, both catcher and third will be better off this season because of these platoons to start the season.

The Charlotte Observer

Atlanta Braves’ Uptons join rare group of brothers-slash-teammates

B.J. and Justin Upton took side-by-side lockers during their first spring training together. Even so, they rarely came across as anything more than just teammates.

Sure, there was plenty of good-natured ribbing. Other times, they chatted quietly. Mostly, they stuck to their own space — one gently swaying to the tunes in his headphones, the other sipping on a drink and fumbling through some papers.

You know, like any other teammates in the Atlanta Braves clubhouse.

“These guys spend so much time together during the course of the year, it’s almost like everybody’s a brother,” said Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez. “I haven’t treated them any different. I haven’t even thought about it. The only time it comes up is when somebody asks me, ‘How do you handle the brothers?’ I’m like, ‘Uhh, I don’t know.'”

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