Fredi Gonzalez has officially revealed his five starters for the first few games of Spring. Freddy Garcia, Kris Medlen, Brandon Beachy, Julio Teheran, Alex Wood, and David Hale will start the first six Spring contests, respectively, starting with tomorrow's tilt at 1:05 p.m. against the Detroit Tigers. That also means that Spring Training baseball kicks off tomorrow! Excited yet?
AJC Writer Dave O'Brien's latest blog post focuses on trying to figure out whether or not the players are feeling any sort of pressure following signing long-term contracts (or whatever you want to call Jason Heyward's deal). DOB gets quotes from all 5 of the players who signed extensions over the past fortnight, and even gets a quote from Fredi Gonzalez, who received a contract extension of his own during this period.
One name that was missing from the above list was Mike Minor, and that's because Minor came into camp a little behind schedule. This was due to having to rest following surgery on his urethra. If you're up to figuring out the gory details surrounding the reasons behind Minor having to get surgery, then click the link. If not, then I apologize for ruining your morning. Baseball-wise, this means that Minor is behind by a week or two and will probably make his regular season debut around April 12th, according to Fredi Gonzalez.
MLB Network will be televising over 200 Spring Training games this year, and the Braves will be playing on 7 of them. The first televised Braves Spring Training game will come on March 5th at 1:00 p.m. against the Philadelphia Phillies. Most of the games will be delayed, including the game on the 16th against the Yankees, which will be televised on the 17th at 7:00 a.m. Be sure to set your alarm clock for that one.
After a season in which he scuffled his way to a line of .164/.268/.289 with 56 wRC+, there's really nowhere to go but up for B.J. Upton, and Bossman Junior is hoping to return to the days of being a regular 3+ fWAR player is by making mechanical adjustments to his swing. Mark Bowman reports that hitting coach Greg Walker and even B.J.'s father have all lent a helping hand this winter in trying to put things back on the right track for B.J. In related news, here's video of B.J. taking BP against Julio Teheran.
In a piece by the AP's Jeff Berlinicke, all eyes are squarely on Braves C Evan Gattis as he prepares to replace Brian McCann as the team's starting backstop. Gattis revealed to Berlinicke that he is ready for the "focus to be on his play," instead of his back story. After taking an amazing path to the Majors, Gattis is focused on sealing down his spot in the Majors for the foreseeable future by excelling as the catcher for the Braves.
In memory of former Major League shortstop, manager, and scout for the Atlanta Braves Jim Fregosi, the Braves have decided to honor Fregosi by hanging a banner on the outfield wall with Fregosi's name on it. Mark Bowman provided the photo in the link, and he also provided a closer look of the banner here as well.
League Wide News
Texas Rangers Manager and Noted Bunt Enthusiast Ron Washington agreed to a contract extension that will presumably keep him in Arlington until the end of the 2015 season. Under Washington, the Rangers have a .538 record with 2 AL West titles, 2 AL Pennants, and once came agonizingly close to winning the World Series.
The new rule involving collisions at home plate will go into effect in time for Spring Training games. Basically, the rule is attempting to strongly discourage runners from going out of their way to initiate contact with the catcher at home plate.
After struggling to the point where the first baseman was demoted to Triple A, Ike Davis admitted that he concealed an Oblique Injury. Oddly enough, Davis was a bit upset that the story came out and said that "I sucked because I sucked," which seemed to reiterate the fact that he didn't want to place all the blame for his terrible season (where he hit for .205/.326/.334 with 9 HRs (23 less than he had in 2012)) on that injury.
Even though he hasn't officially retired yet, Jim Thome already has an eye on the future, and he hopes that that future includes being a manager of a big league club. Aaron Gleeman of Hardball Talk notes that Thome was a very popular figure everywhere he went, and honestly, who wouldn't want to learn a little something from a guy who hit 612 HRs?
Although it's unknown as to how far along they are in talks, apparently the Cleveland Indians have at least began preliminary talks with their 2B Jason Kipnis. Kipnis has quickly established himself as one of the best second basemen in the game, hitting .284/.366/.462 with 17 HRs and 130 wRC+ in only his second full season as the starter for the Indians.
Meanwhile, the Orioles have actually kicked off talks with their shortstop, J.J. Hardy. Hardy led all AL shortstops with 25 HRs last season and is looking to capitalize on the Orioles going on a bit of a late shopping spree.
Despite avoiding arbitration, extension talks between the Cubs and SP Jeff Samardzija have come to such a standstill that the Cubs have gone back to looking into trading the 29-year-old right-hander. Samardzija had an ERA of 4.34 and a FIP of 3.77 with a K/9 rate of 9.01 in 2013.