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The Daily Chop: Nick Markakis’ role, Hank Aaron and more

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Markakis expected to take on a bench role this season.

Atlanta Braves v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Nick Markakis’ role with the Atlanta Braves for 2020 became unclear the moment the team signed Marcell Ozuna. While Ozuna and Ronald Acuña Jr. will occupy two of Atlanta’s three outfield spots on an everyday basis, Markakis was left to compete for playing time with Ender Inciarte and Adam Duvall. While things can certainly change, the initial alignment will be Ozuna in left, Acuña in right with Inciarte manning centerfield according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. Duvall would likely draw starts in right with Acuña moving to center when the team faces a left-handed pitcher.

While Brian Snitker hasn’t confirmed this scenario in so many words, this appears to be the most likely conclusion provided Inciarte, Acuña and Ozuna make it through spring training healthy.

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Speaking of Markakis, he spoke with reporters on Tuesday and sounded off on the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal and also had some pointed words for commissioner Rob Manfred.

Braves legend Hank Aaron was at the Braves’ new Spring Training complex on Tuesday morning as the club honored him by naming the street leading into CoolToday Park “Hank Aaron Way.” Aaron also spoke with Bowman about a variety of topics including Ronald Acuña Jr. and Freddie Freeman.

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Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas had a second PRP injection Tuesday morning and will be out about a month which will cause him to miss the start of the season. Mikolas has been dealing with a flexor tendon strain that forced him to skip a previously scheduled bullpen session. He will be reevaluated in about a month and will participate in non-throwing drills.

Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge sat out the team’s first full squad batting practice session on Tuesday with a sore right shoulder. Judge has reportedly been dealing with soreness for the last two weeks and won’t be ready to play in the team’s Grapefruit League opener this weekend. Additionally, Judge also had some choice comments for the Astros in regards to their sign-stealing controversy saying that Houston should have been forced to vacate their 2017 World Series title and that players should have been punished.

The Boston Red Sox and veteran catcher Jonathan Lucroy are in agreement on a minor-league deal according to a report by MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. Lucroy hit .232/.305/.355 with eight homers in 101 games with the Angels and the Cubs last season. He is expected to compete with Kevin Plawecki for the backup job behind Christian Vazquez.

Finally, veteran left-hander Scott Kazmir has been working out and plans to begin auditioning for teams later this week according to ESPN’s Buster Olney. Kazmir is reportedly throwing in the lower nineties with his fastball. Kazmir of course was part of the Matt Kemp trade with the Dodgers and Braves. Atlanta released him during spring training in 2018.