Mar 17, 2014; Kissimmee, FL, USA; Atlanta Braves pitcher Alex Wood (40) delivers a pitch during the game against the Houston Astros at Osceola County Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

Morning Chop: Atlanta Braves News 3/23/14


Boston Herald

John Lackey battered, not bruised in Red Sox’ loss to Braves

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — A few notes from the Red Sox’ 6-3 loss to the Braves:

–In his second-to-last spring training start, John Lackey allowed five runs on 10 hits, which didn’t include the one he took off his thigh in the third inning. Lackey was struck on what manager John Farrell called “the flesh part of the leg” by a Freddie Freeman line drive, but But stayed in the game and completed an outing in which he topped the 80-pitch mark. He will throw 90-100 pitches Thursday in his final tuneup before his regular-season debut, likely slated for April 2 in Baltimore. “It’s spring training. I’m not real concerned about a whole lot right now,” Lackey said after giving up wind-aided homers to Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons and second baseman Dan Uggla. “I’m just trying to build up my arm strength and get ready for the real deal.” Lackey also made an acrobatic play on Jordan Schafer’s bunt, shoveling a throw to first base before falling to the ground. Catcher A.J. Pierzynski called for athletic trainer Rick Jameyson, but Lackey quickly waved him off. “A.J. was just being funny,” Lackey said. “He was giving me a rest.”



Rowland’s Office

Gavin Floyd, difference-maker?

Depth is an undervalued asset in baseball, especially when it comes to pitching. The Braves had it but lost it over two days in March.

Ervin Santana and Alex Wood are solid substitutes for Med Dog and Beachy, but it’s not that seamless. Wood, enjoying an impressive spring,  needs to be handled with extreme care, lest we see another double graduate of Tommy John’s recovery school. He’s never pitched more than 140 innings in a season and that funky delivery gives you pause. It would be careless to expect more than 170 this year. How he gets there will be one of Fredi’s bigger challenges — hopefully the handling of Stephen Strasburg in 2012 won’t serve as a model. (Instead, rest him along the way, taking advantage of days off on the schedule by skipping his turn in the rotation when a series with the Cubs or Mets looms.)

That puts the onus on Gavin Floyd, scheduled to return sometime in May. He’s an unknown quantity to Braves fans — only the most ardent will remember him as the Phils’ top pitching prospect who fell on his face (6.96 ERA, 1.739 WHIP in 108-2/3 IP). The fourth overall pick in the 2001 draft evolved into the quintessential average major league starter on the South Side: 4.22  ERA, 1.296 WHIP.




Gattis (strained quad) misses 4th game, but progressing

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Before missing his fourth game since straining his right quadriceps, catcher Evan Gattis tested the leg by catching Ervin Santana’s bullpen session and taking part in pregame baserunning drills. He got through the work without incident.

“I didn’t have any problem at all catching,” Gattis said. “And I didn’t think I would. I strained it running, so I think running is the biggest thing. I was going to shut it down if I felt anything (during the baserunning). I didn’t feel anything, but I also wasn’t pushing it. I wasn’t going full speed.

“I’ll probably do the same thing tomorrow, then probably try to play Monday.”




Wood continues strong spring for Braves vs. Red Sox

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Alex Wood extended the success he has had over the past month and Freddie Freeman put together a four-hit performance that helped the Braves claim a 6-3 win over the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon at Champion Stadium.

Showing why the Braves were so encouraged with what they saw as he made his first 11 career starts last year, Wood limited the Red Sox to one run over six strong innings. The southpaw surrendered four of his six hits in the fourth inning.

Wood faced the minimum through the first three innings and then allowed Daniel Nava and Shane Victorino to begin the fourth inning with consecutive singles. After Nava was picked off between second and third base, Mike Napoli recorded an RBI single that accounted for the only earned run Wood has allowed in 20 Grapefruit League innings this year.

Freeman began his productive performance by lacing an RBI double to the right-center-field gap and then capped it with singles in each of his final three at-bats. His third-inning single was a liner that appeared to strike Red Sox starter John Lackey’s backside. Lackey recovered and fired a throw to first base that hit Freeman in the lower back.

Tags: Atlanta Braves

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