Braves to ease pitchers into throwing BP this spring
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Dating back to the days of Bobby Cox and former pitching coach Leo Mazzone, the Braves always had their pitchers begin throwing live batting practice on the first day of Spring Training workouts for pitchers and catchers.
But, per a request made by current pitching coach Roger McDowell, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez opted to end the tradition this year. The pitchers will not begin throwing batting practice to live hitters until the club holds its first full-squad workout on Wednesday.
Instead of throwing to live hitters, pitchers have been throwing off the bullpen mounds located throughout the Spring Training complex.
“You’re only supposed to throw 35 pitches, but it’s a little more intense 35 pitches [during live BP],” Gonzalez said. “I remember a couple guys had to back off the rubber because they were gassed [last year]. This year, we went with more of the traditional-type bullpens. Guys get more out of it. The [bullpens] aren’t as intense.”
Atlanta Braves Have Tough Decision To Make On No. 5 Starter
As pitchers and catchers have finally reported to their Spring Training facilities, the Atlanta Braves have very few questions as far as personnel is concerned. One of the questions that the team faces though is who will start as the no. five guy in the starting rotation until Gavin Floyd comes back from his injury rehab. Between the players that are competing for the spot, it could be a difficult one to answer as all three of them have their advantages and disadvantages.
The first choice could be Alex Wood. Wood, who pitched in 31 games for the team in 2013 from the bullpen and starting combined, will be in the starting rotation sooner rather than later, but is that where the Braves need him in 2014?
Jason Heyward will continue to wear protective guard on his helmet
Braves outfielder Jason Heyward wore a protective guard on his helmet after returning from a broken jaw last season and Mark Bowman of MLB.com reportsthat he’ll continue to wear it in 2014.
Heyward broke his right jaw when he was hit in the face by a pitch by Mets’ left-hander Jon Niese last August 21 and required surgery to have two plates inserted. While it was initially feared that he would miss the rest of the season, he managed to make it back within a month and was active for the Braves’ NLDS loss to the Dodgers.
Atlanta Braves Best Second Option
The Atlanta Braves don’t have a prototypical number two hitter that has excellent speed, can bunt with the best of them and who can spray the ball around. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a great option.
Braves third baseman Chris Johnson could do a great job in the number two hole. He has a quick bat, can hit to all fields, makes good contact, and perhaps most importantly, knows how to get on base. Johnson has a high baseball IQ and is a solid situational hitter. He also can hit both left-handed and right-handed pitching equally well and that is important, particularly late in the game.
You can make a strong case that Johnson doesn’t have enough speed to bat second. But I see Johnson having the same type success in the role that Bosox second sackerDustin Pedroia has had batting second, sans the stolen bases.