Found March 05, 2013 on Fox Sports South:
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- There's an old adage concerning spring training games stating that they don't really matter, a broad-stroke perspective that at least one of the 4,000-plus fans in attendance of the Mets-Braves game Monday afternoon would vehemently deny -- the lone man screaming out the name of seemingly every spring invite on New York's roster. And perhaps in terms of final scores or starting pitchers camped out in centerfield between slow sprints, there's some truth to the saying. However, with the Braves' plethora of young arms in the bullpen, the number of goose eggs posted this spring has mattered. Six separate relievers have pitched at least four innings of scoreless ball this spring -- three of them (Luis Avilan, David Hale, Alex Wood) took the mound against the Mets. Along with 27-year-old David Carpenter, the bullpen replaced starter Tim Hudson to the tune of five scoreless innings, two hits, two walks and six strikeouts Monday afternoon. "You'll definitely take that anytime you can get it whether its spring training or regular season," said Carpenter, the game's winning pitcher who struck out two of the three batters he faced. Though the back end of Atlanta's bullpen is all but set in stone with Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters, Eric O'Flaherty and newcomer Jordan Walden, there could certainly be movement throughout the season for the middle innings. Avilan and Cory Gearrin are projected to fill out the middle relief roles, but a rough month or two could easily open the door for a call-up. Avilan impressed in limited time last season, posting a 2.00 ERA with a 3.3-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio; Gearrin posted even better numbers over his 20 innings of work. But neither pitcher has the track record to guarantee success (or a spot) in the Braves' shuffling of relievers. Hence, the importance of spring for some of the young arms. Manager Fredi Gonzalez made particular note of Wood's performance -- and the quirky delivery and movement on his pitches -- in the postgame, but the group's overall performance (against an admittedly underwhelming Mets lineup) was one of the key stories to carry back to Disney's Wide World of Sports. Carpenter said he and his teammates are trusting in the system Gonzalez and pitching coach Roger McDowell have in place, one that has proven effective over time. "They have a good program that has not only worked now, but in years past when you've had guys like (Tom) Glavine, (John) Smoltz and (Greg) Maddux. They know what they're doing." Not a first Chris Johnson's bat stole some headlines away from his ex-Diamondbacks teammate Justin Upton Monday, but his position in the field also made an impression on Gonzalez. Though the 28-year-old hit the go-ahead home run versus the Mets -- a pivotal strike in a third base position battle that is gradually heating up -- he showed his ability to play first base as well. Judging by the response, he's shown enough for Gonzalez to, at the very least, trust him if needed. "Whenever (starting first baseman Freddie) Freeman needs a day off or something you can run him out there. And he looks pretty good out there at first base." When Johnson came over in the blockbuster Justin Upton trade in late January, Atlanta knew it was getting a player who could man both corner infield spots respectably. In 35 23 innings last season, Johnson manned first base for the Diamondbacks with positive defensive metrics, albeit in a small sample size. With last season's backups to Freeman -- Eric Hinske, Martin Prado and even Lyle Overbay -- no longer with the team, Johnson could prove valuable beyond the expected platoon situation at the hot corner. "I'll play anywhere. I told our manager today, 'Wherever he wants me to go, I'll go,'" Johnson said. "I just want to be here. I want to help as best I can and win some games." Numbers Game 6: Tim Hudson forced only six ground balls on Monday, though he faced 18 batters -- an unusually low rate for one of the major league's premier ground ball pitchers. Last season, the 37-year-old forced ground balls 56 percent of the time (seventh-highest rate in baseball). After the game, he said he struggled with his command at times, which was evident in the amount of batted balls sent airborne. However, it should be noted that by his final inning, Hudson forced three-consecutive groundouts to wrap up his second spring start. 2: Christian Bethancourt showed off the defensive skills that have propelled him near the top of the Braves' prospects list as he caught two Mets players stealing Monday. The Braves caught 39 runners stealing in 162 games last season. Meanwhile, as his starting pitcher noted postgame, Bethancourt performed admirably behind the plate catching Hudson for the first time in a live-game scenario.

Fredi Gonzalez 2013: Need Consistently Outstanding

Will Fredi Gonzalez guide the Braves to the Eastern Division title in 2013 Atlanta Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez will be managing his seventh big league season in 2013.  He managed the Marlins from 2006-2009, and of course, the Braves in 2011 and 2012. The 2013 Atlanta Braves season will bring Gonzalez’s biggest expectations ever as a major league manager. Gonzalez has been good...

BJ Upton hits 1st HR for Braves in win

KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) -- B.J. Upton hit his first home run in an Atlanta Braves' uniform, a two-run drive off Doug Fister in the fourth inning Sunday of a 6-1 win over the Detroit Tigers. Upton, who like brother Justin joined the Braves during the offseason, is batting .368 (7 for 19) in the exhibition season. Justin Upton had an RBI double in the fifth against Bruce Rondon....

Upton, Johnson homer to lead Braves over Mets

Justin Upton and Chris Johnson each hit solo home runs, and the Atlanta Braves beat the New York Mets 4-2 on Monday. Upton hit a long home run to left field in the first inning and Johnson, who went 3 for 3, connected in the seventh. Mets right fielder Marlon Byrd had a hit and two RBIs. Ike Davis doubled and scored. Tim Hudson, who is expected to be the Braves' starter on...

O'Flaherty ready to shine for NL's best bullpen

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. When it comes to MLB 13: The Show, Eric O'Flaherty isnt one to hide his disdain. It's not just that with a player rating of 83, the video game has the Braves setup man as the lowest-ranked member of the bullpen, trailing Craig Kimbrel (99), Jonny Venters (87) and Jordan Walden (85). The left-hander's biggest beef lies with what he throws, and...

Justin Upton homers in Braves' win over Mets

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) Tim Hudson was pleased with his performance when he was pitching out of jams. With the bases empty, that's another story. Hudson allowed six hits and a run while throwing 80 pitches over four innings Monday, leading the Atlanta Braves to a 4-2 win over the New York Mets. "About 75 of those 80 were stressful pitches," Hudson said. Justin...

Player Profile #48: B.J. Upton | OF | ATL

What’s B.J. Upton‘s normal home run total? Umm, we’ll get back to you on that.In his six mostly full seasons, Upton has hit 24, 9, 11, 18, 23, and 28 homers. His HR/FB rates have been 19.8%, 7.4%, 6.8%, 11.0%, 14.1%, and 16.7%. His fly ball rates used to sit in the 30s, but over the last three years he’s been in the low-40s. But while his power numbers have been inconsistent...


Talk among scouts that #Braves will listen on Venters. Braves, though, say they love depth in their bullpen, including 3 LHs with Avilan. — Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) March 6, 2013 I can't. No. Stop talking about this. Jonny Venters is my favorite Brave and we CAN'T lose him. (I don't want to hear pragmatic statements about the good of the team. Those comments...

Braves 2, Yankees 0

Atlanta second baseman Dan Uggla escaped a scary incident without serious injury. Uggla says he is fine after getting hit by a pitch in the back of the neck during the sixth inning of the Braves' 2-0 win over the New York Yankees on Tuesday night. ''There's a little sensation,'' Uggla said. ''I'm good. Luckily, I never went black or anything...
Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.