Braves Announce Opening Day Roster

Brooks Conrad's bat could be a valuable asset off the bench to Fredi Gonzalez this season.

The Atlanta Braves have released their 25-man roster for the upcoming season. There were reports that the final set of roster cuts wouldn't be made until next Wednesday, but it appears as if the Braves and Fredi Gonzalez are eager to get things underway. Here's a look at some of the decisions made today:

The Bench:

There were three spots open, and they will be occupied by Brooks Conrad, Brandon Hicks, and Matt Young. Conrad will (or at least should) only be used as a pinch-hitter in the latter innings, and he thrived in that role last season. Brandon Hicks, who might just be the best pinch-runner in baseball, will be the primary defensive option off the bench and is capable of playing all around the infield. And little Matt Young will finally get his chance in Atlanta after years of perseverance in the system. You just have to root for a guy like that.

The Bullpen:

Cristhian Martinez will be the final man in the Braves 'pen to start the season. The team released Scott Proctor after two injury plagued and unimpressive seasons. This is the right move. Martinez has above-average stuff and is a capable long-man should a starter have to leave early. Good work Fredi.

Joe Mather Placed on Waivers:

Well that didn't take long, and now we know why the Braves had been searching for a right-handed bench player to complement Eric Hinske. Mather was very unimpressive at the plate this Spring, and he's not much of a fielder. He'll probably get picked up by another team by the end of the week.

Jair Jurrjens Update:

The club will wait and monitor Jurrjens' progress over the next few days before deciding if he'll need to start the season on the disabled list. If he's ready to go, he'll start the sixth game of the season in Milwaukee. If he has to miss time, the team will likely call-up Mike Minor to make a start or two.

After all of today's cuts, this is your first 25-man Braves roster of the season.

Catcher - Brian McCann
First Base - Freddie Freeman
Second Base - Dan Uggla
Third Base - Chipper Jones
Shortstop - Alex Gonzalez
Outfield - Martin Prado, Nate McLouth, Jason Heyward
Bench - Brooks Conrad, Brandon Hicks, Eric Hinske, David Ross, Matt Young

Starting Pitchers - Tim Hudson, Tommy Hanson, Derek Lowe, Jair Jurrjens, Brandon Beachy
Relief Pitchers - Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Peter Moylan, Eric O'Flaherty, Scott Linebrink, George Sherrill, Cristhian Martinez

That looks pretty damn good. Let's make 2011 a season to remember.

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