The Atlanta Braves scored their first victory of the spring defeating the Boston Red Sox, 5-3 in Fort Myers Monday afternoon. The game marked the spring debuts of several of Atlanta’s young core including Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies. Acuña didn’t waste any time getting his spring off to an electric start as he rifled a ball into the left field corner to lead off the game and then beat the throw at second for a hustle double. He would later come around and score the first run of the game on a single by Jake Lamb.
After the game, Brian Snitker said he was pleased with how Acuña looks and that he is moving really well.
“Yeah, really good,” Snitker said when asked about Acuña’s performance Monday. “He kind of struggled a little bit during the whole spring training last year. You just look at him, how he came to the ballpark and how he’s moving”
Snitker also confirmed that Acuña is a bit lighter this year and that he thinks that will be a good thing over a full season.
“Yeah, he lost a considerable amount. I think he feels really good too, Snitker said. “I think it’ll play well for a long season that he’s not carrying so much weight around, but I I love the way he came into camp.”
Acuña was hampered by a sore wrist for most of the 2020 season and it landed him on the injured list for a stretch. He played through the pain down the stretch and in the postseason and the team was hoping that a full offseason would allow the injury to subside.
“It probably was bothering him more than even let on, Snitker said. “He’s a tough kid and wants to play. We kind of monitored him and tried to back him off a little bit in the offseason on a lot of his hitting. We’ll try and probably not do so much cage work and things like that this year just to make sure.”
Huascar Ynoa solid in debut
Huascar Ynoa made his first start of the spring Monday allowing no hits but one run and two walks in 1 2/3 innings. He struck out four. Snitker came away impressed with his performance.
“Yeah, he’s really good. He’s a confident kid with really good stuff. That was very impressive today.”
The Braves still aren’t sure what role Ynoa might fit into, but will stretch him out as a starter for now. If Mike Soroka begins the season on the injured list, Ynoa would be among a group that also includes Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson that are competing for the final spot in the rotation.
“We’re trying to quicken him up to the plate with guys on. I think when he does that his arm works really good. He’s still learning, but he’s got an arsenal of pitches and the versatility that he has. Like we said yesterday, I think we stretch him out as a starter and see where we need him.”
William Contreras, Cristian Pache debut
Monday’s game also marked the spring debut for catcher William Contreras and outfielder Cristian Pache. Contreras had a big day at the plate going 1-for-2 with a walk while driving in three runs. Pache finished 0-for-2 but was robbed of an opposite field home run by Cesar Puello leading off the second inning.
“It was kind of crazy watching him (Contreras) take BP and just how he’s matured, Snitker said when asked about their performance. “I thought Pache had two really good at-bats. Actually, about shot the the breaking ball out. That was really both of those guys were good to see today.”
Freddie Freeman and Marcell Ozuna’s Debut
Freddie Freeman took batting practice on the field today at North Port. Snitker said that he will likely make his spring debut at some point later in the week.
“I think probably the end of the week He had to go see the doctor today and get checked out. He was out hitting when we left but I’m I’m thinking if I when I talked to him if I remember right it would be the end of the week.”
Snitker also indicated that Marcell Ozuna will make his debut on Tuesday and is scheduled to play the next two games. Ian Anderson is scheduled to make his first start of the spring against Minnesota in Tuesday’s home opener at CoolToday Park.