Braves Daily News Digest: 3/19

David Banks

Your morning/afternoon stop for all the latest Braves news and other stories around the league.

Braves News

McCann Returns To Champion Stadium

If you are in the state of Florida the 'hip' place to be at today is Champion Stadium, as the New York Yankees will make their only trip to take on the Atlanta Braves at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET. In the crowd tears may be shed and signs raised in honor of the Atlanta homegrown and former Duluth High School catcher Brian McCann who will make his first return to the spring training park where he played at for seven seasons. McCann will make the start behind the plate and would expect to receive a standing ovation from the true fans of Braves Country. The five time Silver Slugger award winner hit 176 home runs with his former team before signing a five-year, $85 million deal with the New York Yankees this offseason. Derek Jeter will also highlight the Yankees travel squad along with Carlos Beltran and Alfonso Soriano. David Hale will start for the Braves against Ivan Nova.

La Stella Goes From Almost Quitting Baseball To Knocking On The Door

At one point in high school (St. Joesph Regional, N.J.) Tommy La Stella thought about quitting baseball so he could enjoy what his other friends were able to do in the summer time. Mark Bowman highlights how this moment in his playing career helped one of the Braves top prospects to where he is today. The left-handed hitting second baseman for the Braves has hit .286 (12-for-42) in his first full spring training with the big league ball club.

Braves To Monitor TJ Protocols

When pitchers start to go down with devastating season ending injuries one starts to question whether the organization is handling its players with care and following acceptable throwing programs and time tables for recovery. Frank Wren tells the AJC that he is very comfortable with the teams processes, as they have followed their protocol from James Andrews, but they will continue to evaluate everything to make sure if they aren't missing anything. The two injuries to Medlen and Beachy will leave the Braves with a staff that is expected to consist of Julio Teheran, Mike Minor, Ervin Santana, Alex Wood, and either young gun David Hale or veteran Freddy Garcia in the early going of the season. Gavin Floyd continues to work his way back to form after TJ surgery and is expected to be back in late May.

Fangraphs Projects 2014 Standings

After a 96 win season last year the great folks at Fangraphs predict the Braves to go 82-80 in the upcoming season, which would put them behind the Nationals who are projected to finish 89-73. They have the Pirates making the second spot in the Wild Card play in game over the Braves.

Pitching Staff Walking The Tight Rope

Despite losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS last season the Braves went into the offseason feeling pretty great, in fact, about their starting pitching rotation for the 2014 season. After all they figured they already had a frontline starter in Medlen, believed that Teheran or Minor could continue to emerge into aces and not to mention, a full season with a healthy Beachy would be warmly welcomed. However, only one of these pitchers has been a constant through ST so far and Teheran has now taken over the running to be the No. 1 starter throughout the season. MLB.com's Terrence Moore dives into the situation even more and discusses why the Braves rotation is on shaky grounds.

More Small Ball For Braves Lineup Wanted?

Yardbarker's Jim Hart discussed whether or not the Braves will soon be shifting to a more small ball approach rather than staying on a power trip that has comprised the teams lineup the past few seasons. However, this may not be entirely needed as Jason Heyward and B.J. Upton both have the capability to steal over 20-30 bases in a season, so speed is not entirely lacking. Yes, Turner Field is not a hitter friendly park but after all the team will be moving to a new one in just a couple of years.

League-Wide News

Yanks And Bees Take Over Boston

A mad pack of bees swarmed the field in the Yankees 8-1 win over Boston at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Tuesday afternoon. Mark Teixeira must have planned the evil prank as he brought two things of honey out of the dugout with him as well.

Former Yankee Catcher, Martin, Calls McCann An "Expensive Mistake"

Grudges much bro? Russell Martin, the now Pittsburgh Pirates starting catcher, told media how he felt about the Yankees deal to McCann this offseason. Martin is not too shabby of a hitter, but he saw his best season in the Bigs in the 2007 season when he hit .293 with 19 home runs, 87 RBIs, 87 runs, and 21 stolen bases for the Dodgers.

Sizemore Makes Two Phenomenal Catches

Grady Sizemore hasn't received over 500 at-bats since 2009 but the 31 year old, who hasn't played a game since Sept. 22, 2011, is trying to make one of the most notable comeback attempts in MLB history. He's gotten off on the right start so far with a .381 average (8-for-21) in spring training with the Boston Red Sox as he vies for a chance to be the ball clubs starting center fielder on Opening Day. His two highlight reel catches in the outfield certainly help his chances and even better he didn't get hurt while crashing into the wall and laying out for a superman like snag to rob a base hit.

Dodgers, Diamondbacks Arrive In Australia

The cricket grounds in Australia is about to become the home for 2014 MLB Opening Day when the Dodgers and Diamondbacks bring the campaign to a start on Saturday, March 22. The Dodgers will also play an exhibition game against Team Australia this Thursday. While Greinke dislike the trip from the start it seems that Adrain Gonzalez is thoroughly enjoying his in ways we didn't want to see. Also Clayton Kershaw apparently loves kangaroos now.

Tell 'Em Bo

Bo Jackson tells future would-be two sport athletes to drop the idea now and stick to one sport. This comes from the mouth of a man who is one of the most famous athletes to ever play two professional sports (football and baseball of course).

Harvey Not Pleased With Mets Rehab Process

Careful Matt. With all the recent TJ surgeries continuing to mount I'd say listen to the doctors and take it easy. The future is bright for ya kid.

Pineda Continues Strong Performance In ST

Michael Pineda should be very close to nailing down a spot in the Yankees starting rotation this season. He fired another scoreless outing and is 2-0 from the bump in ST play without allowing a run in nine shutout innings in which he has struck out 14 and walked one batter.

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