There's nothing quite like opening day. It's the day when all fan bases for the 31 teams in the league can come together and celebrate the start to America's National Pastime. Also for every fan it marks the start of what they hope to be a promising season, whether it's breaking the curse of the Billy Goat or getting past the NLDS for the first time in a while. Braves left fielder Justin Upton wrote his own reflection of his 2013 Opening Day with the Braves. The experience for J-Up left chills running through his body playing in front of his new fan base and especially after hitting a moonshot off of Cole Hamels.
For a while Fredi G kept shifting around his lineup trying to find the one that he thought fit best for the NL East defending champs. According to the AJC, Gonzalez seems to have a taking to a 1-8 lineup now that is much different from last season, with B.J. Upton in the two-spot and Chris Johnson batting cleanup. At the beginning of spring training many thought Evan Gattis would hit in the four-hole, but it appears the Braves want a more consistent contact hitter in that spot now. C.J., who has a career .361 batting average on balls in play, is an intriguing option behind Freddie Freeman who thrives not only on his first pitch swings, but with runners in scoring position.
When some Braves fans bought tickets to the Ted for 2014 Opening Day nearly a month ago there's no one that could've predicted that Aaron Harang would be scheduled to be the starter from the mound against the New York Mets on April 8. That's how it's shaping out for the newly acquired 35-year old vet who won 14 games for the San Diego Padres in 2011.
With anxious Braves fans watching the ESPN broadcast of the game yesterday between the Atlanta Braves and Detroit Tigers they were not disappointed, as Atlanta jumped all over Detroit starting pitcher Rick Porcello for six runs and totaled 16 hits in the ball game. No hit was bigger than when Jason Heyward hit a sky rocket over the right field scoreboard just after Gerald Laird hit his first home run of ST in the sixth inning. J-Hey and Uggla lead the team with 4 home runs in Grapefruit League play. Southpaw reliever Ian Thomas was sharp for the Braves bullpen in his scoreless fourth inning frame in which he struck out two batters with his sharp fastball. In 10 appearances this spring he is 1-0 and has recorded a 2.70 ERA and struck out 13 batters in 10 innings. He has virtually solidified himself on the OD roster.
It's very good news that a Braves pitcher feels very strong, as does Ervin Santana who made his last start in spring training before he will face big league hitters again in the regular season. The ball is coming out of his hand very well he believes and his motto is to keep pounding it low in the strike zone. He went three innings against the Tigers and surrendered two earned runs on four hits. Julio Teheran will make his final spring start today before he takes the bump on March 31 against the Milwaukee Brewers for his first opening day start.
Something tells me that the Braves are ready to get back to Atlanta as soon as possible with no more injuries than they already have on their pitching staff. Cory Gearrin was expected to make the team out of ST, but now won't be with the team in Milwaukee and could be out for an extended time period based on how severe his initial diagnosis of an elbow sprain really is. Pitching for the fourth time in the last six days he left the game at Joker Marchant Stadium on Tuesday after delivering two pitches off the mark to Torii Hunter. The Tigers right fielder also made the news for his reaction to Heyward's bomb in the sixth inning.
For the second year in the row the Braves were selected to be the runner ups in the NL East to the Washington Nationals. However, under a new manager nothing can be guaranteed of the Nationals especially after the fluke season they had last year. ESPN insider Dan Szymborski believes that the experts are overrating the Nats.
Michael Pineda has had a great showing in spring training with a 2-1 record and 1.20 ERA in 15 innings for the New York Yankees. He could be in store for a comeback player of the year award after missing all of last season due to a shoulder tear.
The MLB is hoping for even stricter penalties for those who use muscle-enhancing steroids and the new penalties could be a 100-game suspension for the first initial positive testing and a season long ban for the second occurrence.
Former fan favorite in Atlanta, Jeff Franceour has signed a minor league contract with San Diego. The Cleveland Indians had disposed of the once top prospect despite driving in 10 runs this spring in 13 games.
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