Oct 4, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (right) consoles relief pitcher Luis Ayala (20) after they could not make a play at first base against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the seventh inning of game two of the National League divisional series playoff baseball game at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Morning Chop: Atlanta Braves News 2/8/14

Team-by-team Grapefruit League guide

Sun Sentinel

Many baseball fans will spend the next several weeks hop-scotching the state surveying the 15Grapefruit League teams.

They’re all but certain to see at least one of the 2014 World Series clubs. Including last season’sCardinals-Red Sox Fall Classic, six of the last 11 World Series pitted two Grapefruit League teams.

Four others had one, leaving the 2010 Giants-Rangers matchup as the lone Series featuring two Cactus League clubs. Six of last season’s 10 postseason participants are reporting for spring training in Florida, including the World Champion Red Sox in Fort Myers. They lost free agentJacoby Ellsbury, but the Red Sox’s lineup will feature a pair of exciting youngsters in shortstopXander Bogaerts and center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.



Henry ‘Hank’ Aaron turns 80 in fitting style


Henry Aaron turned 80 on Wednesday, a long life now divided neatly in half by the 40 years building to home run No. 715 and the 40 years spent in service to that epic swing.

Time to celebrate the fully experienced life, one that has enjoyed equal meaning on both sides of the foul pole.

Aaron’s 80th was not to pass quietly. Baseball’s all-natural home-run king was to be honored at a Friday night dinner thrown by his buddy, Commissioner Bud Selig, in Washington. Today, he and his likeness will be celebrated at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

Space in that hall is reserved not only for those who can hit the fastball, but those who have, on a grander scale, influenced a nation’s culture. The Hammer did his share of societal shaping with a 33-ounce piece of sculpted ash.

“Can we tell the story of baseball without Henry Aaron? I don’t think so,” Bethany Bentley, a gallery spokeswoman, said. He’ll keep eclectic company, hanging next to actor Morgan Freeman.



Braves’ Chris Johnson not resting on 2013 success

USA Today

ATLANTA (AP) — Chris Johnson is taking the same approach to the 2014 season he used one year ago, when he was fighting for a starting job.

Don’t try telling Johnson he’s a lock to start at third base for the Atlanta Braves after finishing second in the National League in hitting in 2013. Johnson is determined to work even harder this offseason to prove he deserves the job.

Hard work paid off last season, when Johnson hit .321, finishing second in the NL to Colorado’s Michael Cuddyer. Johnson said he doesn’t dare change that successful approach, so he was back at Turner Field on Friday, just as he has been every day of the informal pitchers’ camp the last two weeks.

“I’m really superstitious so I’m trying not to make it any different,” Johnson said. “I’m trying to come into camp trying to win a job. That’s my mentality, just because I want to continue to progress and have a real good year. I’m trying everything to keep my mind on the same path as last offseason, so that’s why I’m here.

“I’m trying to stay on that path as much as possible.”



Talking Chop’s 2014 Top 25 Prospects: 1-5

Talking Chop

r the last two weeks, Talking Chop’s prospect team put our heads together to rank the twenty-five best prospects in the Braves minor league system going into the 2014 season. The list is a weighted compilation of the lists of five of our writers: Ben Duronio, Mark Smith, Ethan Purser, Andrew Sisson and Daniel Simpson.

For the list, eligibility was determined based on the major league at-bats/innings pitched requirements for rookie eligibility. If a player has used up their MLB rookie eliability, they will not be on our list.

All statistics are from the player’s full 2013 season for all levels. Level designations are from the level at which the player completed the 2013 season.



Ayala returns to Nationals on minor-league deal

CSN Washington

Luis Ayala, a key member of the Nationals’ inaugural bullpen in 2005, is returning to the organization six years after last pitching for it.

The Nationals have signed Ayala to a minor-league contract with an invitation to big-league spring training, according to a source familiar with the deal.

The 36-year-old right-hander pitched for the Braves and Orioles last season, posting a 3.27 ERA in 39 combined appearances but putting 51 men on base in only 33 innings.


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