Atlanta Braves Spring Training Buzz: Week 1

Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE

A run-down of all the Atlanta Braves news from the first week of spring training.

The explosion of Atlanta Braves news this time of year can be somewhat overwhelming. We've gone from barely a story a day for most of the winter (except when the team was acquiring an Upton) to multiple stories a day about a bunch of different players. I thought it would be a good time to catch everyone (and myself) up on what's being said about these guys, some of whom are in competition for roster spots.

So in alphabetical order, here are the players that have been talked about in the media (non-Upton/Heward division), and links to stories about them as well as snippets of those stories.

Brandon Beachy:
Beachy progressing, could throw off mound soon | www.ajc.com
Approaching the eight-month mark in what is typically a 12-13 month recovery from "Tommy John" elbow surgery, Braves pitcher Brandon Beachy has made steady progress and could be cleared to throw off a mound by the end of next week.

Freddie Freeman:
Freeman's left index finger finally pain-free | braves.com: News
"The first week of January, I was able to make a full fist," Freeman said. "That was when the excitement hit me. I was like, 'Yes, it's fully healthy.' Even when I had been working out, doing curls and other things, I could still feel it in my fingers. But back in [the summer], they were telling me that I wouldn't be able to make a fist until Christmas."

Evan Gattis:
Braves weighing backup backstop for start of year | braves.com: News
"[Gattis] should be sitting in that locker room thinking, I need to make an impression and make this club, whether it's a right-hander off the bench or something else," Gonzalez said. "He's learning how to play the outfield. He can catch a little bit if you want to carry him as your third catcher. He can play a little bit of first base. But his bat is going to carry him."

Versatile Gattis could earn himself bench role | braves.com: News
"If it was up to our bench coach [Carlos Tosca], he'll play someplace every single day because he loves to see him hit," Gonzalez said. "So I'm sure I'll be getting tugged on the uniform with him asking, 'When we going to put Gattis in?'"

J.R. Graham:
Braves prospect Graham emulates idol Hudson | braves.com: News
As Hudson was exiting the bullpen before a start he made for the A's in Oakland, he tossed a baseball toward a then-9-year-old Graham, who still has the ball at his parents' home, which is located about 30 minutes east of Oakland. Graham was initially hesitant to tell Hudson of the event that occurred during Hudson's 1999 rookie season. "I didn't want to tell him at first, but the first day I saw him as we were walking back to the back fields, I said, 'Hey, I was a pretty big fan of yours when I was nine,'" Graham said. "It was pretty cool. I had to get my fan out. He was totally cool about it."

Tim Hudson:
Hudson plans to make the most of 2013 season | braves.com: News
"Hopefully, I'll play a while longer, and hopefully it's here," Hudson said. "I think when the day comes when I'm not a Brave or not playing for anybody, it's going to be a sad day around the Hudson house."

Brian McCann:
McCann gets encouraging report on shoulder | braves.com: News
"They said everything is on schedule and that everything looks good," McCann said. "The strength looks good."

Ernesto Mejia:
Mejia's winter efforts impress Braves | braves.com: News
"He's an interesting guy," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You look at the roster and the way the team is set up, and you say he doesn't fit. Well, if we maybe want to bring a right-handed bat off the bench. ... Or you never wish somebody gets hurt, but at least you feel comfortable enough that he could fill in."

Mike Minor:
Major confidence boost has Mike Minor in good place | braves.com: News
"The way I think about is that I did have a good second half, but nobody cares," Minor said. "If you go into this season and struggle again, people are going to say, 'Well he had a good second half last year and this season he [stinks].' People don't care. They want to win."

Jordan Schafer:
Jordan Schafer is looking to figure in Braves' outfield plans | braves.com: News
"Physically the stuff has been there," Schafer said. "Mentally, I've been all over the place. I need to grow up and mature a little bit. I've [been dumb] in the past. But I think mentally, I'm in a good place right now."

Andrelton Simmons:
Simmons relishes challenge of batting leadoff | braves.com: News
"I always feel like I'm the guy people doubt," Simmons said after arriving for Spring Training on Wednesday. "So it's a good feeling to stand out, do what people don't expect. It's satisfying for myself. I always challenge myself to jump out of nowhere.

Julio Teheran:
"Teheran, Gilmartin to vie for fifth rotation spot | braves.com: News
"Especially with young kids, I'm not big on anointing them by saying, 'You're the guy and here it is,'" Gonzalez said. "With a young kid, I think you still need to show them there is a carrot out there and you've still got to compete. The other guys read newspapers, too. Gilmartin, give him a good chance to compete."

Dan Uggla:
Uggla sheds weight after worst season | www.ajc.com
He shed 10 pounds since the end of the season and 20 pounds since the beginning of 2012 spring training, when he came to camp looking like a middle linebacker. "I came into spring training at 225 last year," said Uggla, who is about 5-foot-9. "I’ve always been solid, but that was just too thick for me."

Jonny Venters:
Braves reliever Jonny Venters is ready to put 2012 behind him | braves.com: News
"I definitely came in a little more prepared this year than I did last year, " Venters said. " I took a lot of time off throwing last year and then I kind of got behind the eight ball. Once camp started, I had a hard time getting going and my arm started getting sore. This year, I started to crank it up a little earlier and be a little more prepared."

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