Atlanta Braves 2014 Preview
CAN B.J. UPTON AND UGGLA REBOUND?
The Braves put up impressive numbers offensively a season ago despite struggles by B.J. Upton and Uggla.
Atlanta signed B.J. Upton to a five-year, $75.25 million deal and later traded to get his younger brother Justin from the Arizona Diamondbacks. And while the latter Upton put up decent numbers in his first season with the Braves, B.J. Upton struggled to a .184 average and .557 OPS and was coming off the bench by the end of September and playoffs.
While the elder Upton has never been one to hit for average, his season was still a large disappointment in Atlanta.
Uggla, meanwhile, has failed to have a huge impact since getting added to the Braves’ mix, having hit just .213 in his three seasons. But things hit a new low in 2013, with the second baseman hitting just .179 and finding himself on the bench for a chunk of August.
While the Braves will be patient with B.J. Upton, they will likely be making calls trying to move Uggla, who is still owed $26 million for the next two years.
Early on, the pressure will be off B.J. Upton as he won’t need to hit near the top of the order thanks to Heyward, who batted .322 in 30 games out of the leadoff spot in 2013, a move that helped spark a winning run for the Braves.
Atlanta Braves 2014 Home Opener Tuesday, April 8
The Atlanta Braves home opener will take place on Tuesday, April 8 vs. their NL East rivals the New York Mets and it will be an extraordinary night for fans in Braves Country! First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m., but fans are asked to be in their seats by 6:30 p.m. so they don’t miss any of the pregame festivities.
A pregame ceremony will recognize the 40th Anniversary of Hank Aaron hitting his 715th home run and breaking Babe Ruth‘s long standing record. There will be many special guests and surprises as we honor our beloved home run king.
Throughout the 2014 season the Braves will wear a special patch on the right sleeve of their uniforms and a special decal will be on the Turner Field outfield wall honoring the anniversary of this incredible feat.
To start the festivities, Kristian Bush, half of the award-winning duo Sugarland, will perform a pregame concert in Fan Plaza and will also sing the National Anthem before the game.
Prior to the national anthem, the Atlanta Braves will unveil their 2013 NL East division championship banner and the 2014 team will be introduced and line up along the base path.
The incredibly popular Timothy Miller from the Atlanta Opera will return again this season and will sing “God Bless America” on this special night during the 7th inning stretch.
The first 45,000 fans coming in to Turner Field will receive a commemorative poster of Hank Aaron courtesy of SunTrust.
Atlanta Braves still have some positives to rely on
So as the season moves quietly but quickly into view, what do we know about this bunch beyond the terrible injuries that the rotation has endured? The news from Braves spring training has been mixed.
Their record is terrible, but not unlike the college basketball regular season, it’s meaningless. A 10-16 stretch in April is bad; a 10-16 stretch in Florida is not that big of a deal, even if you are the Marlins. In fact, 10-16 is a hot streak for the Marlins.
The Braves’ bats have been better than expected, but that could be a big chunk of getting fat against guys with numbers in the mid-to-upper 70s with fastballs to match.
Their starting pitching has been decimated by injury, losing penciled-in No. 1 and No. 3 starters Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy to Tommy John surgeries. The news that Atlanta waived veteran starting pitcher Freddie Garcia on Sunday should be viewed with the optimistic positions that (a) young starters Alex Wood and David Hale have given the decision makers a feeling of calm and (b) the arrival of healing Mike Minor and adjusting Erwin Santana will be on schedule in the middle of next month
Atlanta Braves Trim Roster By Five
The Braves provided a clearer picture of their potential Opening Day roster when they sent five players to Minor League camp on Monday.
Left-handed reliever Ryan Buchter, outfielder Jose Constanza and utility man Joey Terdoslavich were optioned to Triple-A Gwinnett. The only non-roster invitees affected — second baseman Tommy La Stella and Tyler Greene — were reassigned to Minor League camp.
While the Braves could make acquisitions via a trade or free agency this week, this round of cuts gives left-handed reliever Ian Thomas and utility man Tyler Pastornicky more reason to believe they could be part of the Opening Day roster.
After tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee last August, Pastornicky set a goal to be a part of Atlanta’s Opening Day roster in 2014. Though he did not play in his first big league game until Friday, he now stands as the only internal candidate to team with Ramiro Pena as Atlanta’s two backup infielders.
Tags: Atlanta Braves