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Atlanta Braves news and links: Banuelos and Kendrick impress in early stages of camp

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The competition for spots in the Braves' rotation is wide open and so far, Manny Banuelos and Kyle Kendrick are leading the way in the race to enter the rotation.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

BRAVES NEWS

Teheran's fastball could be key to bounce-back season

Julio Teheran's 2015 campaign was honestly a disappointing one, with the now de facto leader of the Braves rotation spending most of the season struggling -- even though he did show brief flashes of the pitcher that we all know and love. Our friends over at Beyond the Box Score have analyzed Teheran's 2015 on multiple occasions, and now they're doing it again. This time, they're focusing on Teheran's fastball and whether or not increasing the usage of it should see him return to form.

...He threw his fastball much more during this July start [vs. the Dodgers] than any other game. Hitters were seemingly unprepared for it; though Teheran allowed 46.2 percent hard contact in that game, 76.9 percent of all contact was pulled. Combined with the ground-ball rate, hitters were either striking out or rolling stuff over to the right side of the infield.

What this game suggests is that Teheran should loop his four-seam fastball back into his usage patterns. On the other hand, decreasing velocity as the aging process begins suggests that Teheran has to figure out a way to pitch without his four seamer being the bread and butter. However, that's not what Teheran did as the season wore on

Freeman: "We're gonna try to take it easy" in the early parts of camp

Freddie Freeman's wrist became a hot topic after the Braves announced that they were going to ease Freeman into Spring Training in an effort to make sure that his wrist doesn't flare up. Of course, this caused a lot of fans to enter into a tizzy since this was interpreted as meaning that Freeman may not be all the way healed from that injury. Freeman tried to alleviate those concerns by saying that he plans on playing all 162 games this season and hopes to miss only a small amount of the Spring Training schedule.

Kendrick and Banuelos are the early leaders in race for rotation spot

The Braves' starting rotation is wide open, and that means that there's a number of pitchers who will be competing to earn a spot in the five-man rotation. Two pitchers who have apparently impressed the Braves in these extremely early stages of Spring Training are Kyle Kendrick and Manny Banuelos. Kendrick is looking to rebound after a pretty awful season with Colorado in 2015, while Banuelos appears to be recovering nicely from having bone chips in his elbow at the tail end of last season.

Lazarito gets dropped by agent after agent receives death threat from "buscon"

The story surrounding the eventual signing of potential Braves target Lazaro "Lazarito" Armenteros has taken a bit of a wild turn, as the 16-year old now needs a new agent after Charles Hairston dropped him. This is due to the fact that Hairston was apparently threatened with death by the Dominican "buscon" who "discovered" Lazarito. That, plus other issues, apparently made the situation impossible to deal with for Hairston, so now Lazarito needs new representation. This is another example of just how complicated it can be to move a Cuban player (or any international player, really) from the Caribbean to the United States.

Tyler Flowers will test out new catcher headgear

This Spring, pitchers around the league are testing out new protective headgear in an effort to make things safer for pitchers when it comes to the dreaded moment of potentially dealing with a line drive comebacker speeding towards them. However, pitchers won't be the only guys trying out new headgear -- Tyler Flowers will be testing out a new helmet for catchers this season.

"We haven’t made a change to catching gear in my lifetime, but even before that," Braves catcher Tyler Flowers said. He will be the first catcher in the MLB to wear new equipment developed by Force 3 Pro Gear, which he helped create. Their mask utilizes shock absorbers to help reduce the impact of a fastball by as much as 50 percent.

With over a decade of experience in professional baseball, Flowers says he has never been diagnosed with a concussion, but he's had some close calls with head injuries. It can be a very scary moment – not just with baseballs, but taking charges at home plate.

"When you’ve had a concussion, it’s on your mind," Flowers said. "It’s your first concern when you get hit."

MLB NEWS

Orioles and Fowler agree to three-year deal

Earlier this week, the Baltimore Orioles and OF Dexter Fowler were reportedly in talks concerning a two-year, $24 million contract. Now, the two have apparently come to an agreement on a three-year, $33 million deal. Assuming all goes well with the physical (and considering what's been going on lately in some other transactions, that is no longer a safe assumption to make), Fowler should be joining the O's this season.

Jose Reyes placed on administrative leave

Rockies SS Jose Reyes is still at the center of a domestic violence case (which appears set to go to trial on Opening Day), and as such, MLB has decided to put Reyes on administrative leave for at least all of Spring Training. This will make sure that baseball will be able to have enough time to consider and take the proper measures concerning a possible suspension while the events of the trial unfold. Since he's on administrative leave, Reyes will still be paid for any regular season games that he misses.