Opening Day starter Julio Teheran put a some sweet icing on what has been a very nice spring Training cake, as he pitched 6 strong innings with 9 strikeouts in the Braves' win over the Marlins. Teheran has accumulated a sub-2 ERA this Spring, and looks more than ready to take the hill on the 31st against the Brewers.
The big, hulking, Venezuelan first baseman Ernesto Mejia will be spending another season in the minors, as the Braves optioned him to Triple-A Gwinnett despite having a pretty good Spring. As Patrick notes in his article, it's kind of hard to break through to the Braves bench when you're A) not the best on defense and B) behind Freddie Freeman at first base. Mejia does have plenty of power, though, and he'll be utilizing that power in the minor leagues for most of 2014. Mark Bowman had a different suggestion:
Ernesto Mejia has been optioned to Gwinnett. Have to wonder if it would be best for him to eventually go to Japan to make some money— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) March 26, 2014
Journeyman pitcher Aaron Harang made a pretty quick arrival at his new team's camp yesterday, and although he'd rather be a permanent starter in the Braves rotation, he seems to have accepted the fact that he'll probably transition into a long-relief role for Atlanta once the rest of the rotation gets healthy and ready to pitch. Either way, Harang seems pretty happy to be on a big league club this season.
Harang: "(Turner Field) is a good ballpark to pitch in and (the Braves have ) a good fan base. I’m really excited to be here."— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) March 26, 2014
Forbes released their annual valuations of MLB clubs yesterday, and the Braves came in at #11 in all of baseball, with a valuation of $730 MM, which served as a 16% 1-year change from 2013. In one of the biggest shocks since the Miracle On Ice in 1980, the New York Yankees were named baseball's most valuable club. The Yankees are worth a whopping $2.5 Billion.
After losing out on a chance to play winter ball due to shoulder surgery that he underwent in June, infielder Ramiro Pena has been dogged with rumors and "concerns" that he wouldn't be ready to return and be effective for the Braves this Spring. As Dave O'Brien points out in this article, that has been far from the case and Pena looks ready to return to the Braves bench and be able to contribute in a major way.
Despite being three weeks late to Spring Training due to recovering from injury, infielder Tyler Pastornicky has played well enough in Spring and shown enough promise in other facets of Spring Training that he'll probably get himself a spot on the 25-man roster for the Braves.
League Wide News
After pitching a gem for the Dodgers in the first official regular season game of the year in baseball, Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw has been scratched from his start on Sunday against the Padres due to back inflammation. This is particularly concerning news because Kershaw has never been on the DL in his career and although missing one start doesn't count as a DL stint, the Dodgers must be hoping that this is only start that he will miss.
After spending most of Spring Training trying to hash out the details of a new deal concerning punishment for players who get caught using performance-enhancing drugs. One particular proposal included a new 25-game suspension for players who "inadvertently" used.
Outfielder Starlin Marte and the Pittsburgh Pirates have come to an agreement on a contract extension worth $31 MM over six years. The deal will cover 5 years of team control and 1 free agent season. Marte was a key cog in the Pirates' first winning season in 2 decades, hitting .280/.343/.441 with 12 HRs and 121 wRC+ for 4.6 fWAR. Not bad for his first full season in the bigs.
After struggling last season with the Los Angeles Angels, former Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson tried to latch on with the Texas Rangers on a minor league deal, in hopes of making their rotation. Unfortunately for Hanson, he didn't make their rotation and was cut from the squad yesterday. The Rangers ended up saving $1.5 MM on this deal as well, as Hanson would have ended up making $2 MM this season had he made the roster (up from the guaranteed $500,000 he would have gotten). Of course, this led to "questions" being asked of Braves beat writer Dave O'Brien.
Meanwhile, the Rangers announced that Tanner Scheppers would be their Opening Day starter. This is actually a bit of a historic moment because the former set-up man for the Rangers will become only the 2nd pitcher in the postwar era of baseball to make his first career start on Opening Day. The other pitcher? Fernando Valenzuela. Scheppers had a 1.88 ERA and 3.74 FIP in 76 relief appearances for the Rangers last season.
A big part of the reason why the Rangers went with Scheppers as their Opening Day starter is because their ace, Yu Darvish, has missed part of this Spring with a sore neck. Darvish underwent a MRI yesterday which revealed no structural damage. The sore neck will probably still put Darvish on the DL to start the season, though. Thus ends the Texas Rangers' Pitching Staff Portion of the Braves Daily News Digest.
The Braves' opponents for Opening Day could possibly be missing their starting shortstop, as Jean Segura may be headed to the DL with a sore right shoulder. Although manager Ron Roenicke didn't exactly confirm that Segura is out, he also said that it's "a possibility," and Segura himself is hoping that he'll be ready for Opening Day on the 31st.
Bobby Abreu's comeback bid with the Philadelphia Phillies came short, as Abreu was cut by the Phillies yesterday. Despite having a very attractive age for General Manager Ruben Amaro (Abreu would be going into his age-40 season), Abreu was unable to impress the Phillies enough to get a spot on the squad, and will probably be done with baseball now.