Considering The Options For The Braves Final Bullpen Spot

A week ago it looked pretty grim that Scott Proctor would come anywhere close to making the Atlanta Braves bullpen out of spring training. After an appearance that lasted less than an inning in which he gave up five runs, everyone seemed to be calling for Proctor's release. He then missed his next appearance because of bronchitis, but now a report surfaces that he had been battling bronchitis for a while:

So, when he developed bronchitis a couple weeks ago, Proctor kept it quiet and kept pitching. It caught up to him in a five-run outing Thursday, but he helped his cause with a bounceback performance Monday when he pitched a scoreless sixth inning against the Mets at Digital Domain Park.

"Whether you are trying to make a spot or not, that's just the way I am," Proctor said. "I was brought up that you've got to work each and every day and do your job regardless of what it is, and I'm not going to change that."

This report seems to indicate that the last two spring appearances prior to Monday for Proctor were made while he was suffering from a pretty severe cold. I admire the guy for wanting to pitch through it, but what's worse, begging off because of a cold or getting lit up when you're on the mound because you're nowhere near 100 percent? Proctor gave up eight runs (only one earned) on six hits and two walks during those two bad outings.

Keep in mind that the Braves probably like Proctor as much as they like Joe Mather -- they're both two guys whom Atlanta has tried to acquire several times in the past. Also keep in mind that Cristhian Martinez has given up a run in each of his last four appearances (one unearned). Meanwhile, Jairo Asencio and Juan Abreu keep putting up great numbers. Abreu has had eight consecutive scoreless appearances, and Ascencio has only given up one run in eight appearances. Ascencio has also thrown two innings in a game three times this spring, the same number of two-inning appearances that Martinez has thrown -- meaning either of them could serve as the long reliever.

If we're looking at results, then Ascencio seems to be a more effective pitcher this spring than either Martinez or Proctor. I honestly don't know why we haven't heard more about him, but I've got to think that he has just as good a chance (or better) to make the Braves opening day roster as do these other guys.

Proctor is still the lead dog, since the Braves would likely lose him if they don't put him on the opening day 25-man roster. The other guys have options left and will likely be part of the valuable organizational bullpen depth at triple-A.

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