In Minors, Russell Wilson tackled tornadoes

Rome Braves GM Dunn saw qualities in quarterback during tragedy

In Minors, Russell Wilson tackled tornadoes

ATLANTA -- As a frightening string of destructive tornadoes ripped through the Southeast on April 27, 2011, Mike Dunn took precautionary measures to protect his Class A Rome Braves players and the visiting Asheville Tourists club that included a young second baseman named Russell Wilson.

Long after the afternoon game scheduled that day had been postponed, primarily to allow State Mutual Stadium's parking lot to be used as a command center for emergency crews, the Tourists evacuated their four-story hotel in Rome and returned to the stadium to seek shelter.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: What will determine Fredi's fate?

Fans ask about Braves manager, offensive upgrades, Spring Training, Seitzer

Inbox: What will determine Fredi's fate?

What do you think Fredi Gonzalez's fate will be after this year? If the Braves are in full-blown rebuilding mode and have kept him as manager in 2015, wouldn't that mean that he's the guy they're sticking with for the future?
-- Tommy D., Los Angeles

There is no doubt the Braves are hoping Gonzalez will be their manager for many years to come. But before committing to him, they will evaluate what transpires this year beyond wins and losses.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves sign veteran catcher Buck to Minors deal

Braves sign veteran catcher Buck to Minors deal

ATLANTA -- Attempting to strengthen their organizational depth in the catching department, the Braves have signed veteran John Buck to a Minor League contract with an invite to Spring Training.

Buck will be targeted to begin the upcoming season with Triple-A Gwinnett. But the 34-year-old would be the most likely option to join Atlanta's roster if anything were to happen to Christian Bethancourt or A.J. Pierzynski, who are slated to be the two catchers on the Braves' Opening Day roster.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Peraza No. 1 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 2B Prospects list

Braves' Peraza heads list, followed by White Sox's Johnson, Rockies' Wall

Peraza No. 1 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 2B Prospects list

MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Friday on MLB.com, with the Top 50 revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at the Top 10 prospects at each position.

Graduations to the Major Leagues have taken a heavy toll on this list in the past year. Six of the second basemen on last year's preseason Top 10, including the top four, have lost their rookie eligibility, creating room for several newcomers.

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Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Smoltz recalls bellhop joke he played on teammates

Smoltz recalls bellhop joke he played on teammates

John Smoltz, one of the electees to the Baseball Hall of Fame, once spent time as a bellhop. Well, not exactly. But he pretended to be one once for about 30 minutes to pull off a joke on his teammates after they arrived at a hotel late one morning on a road trip.

Smoltz told his "Glory Story" on Tuesday on MLB Network, and it had nothing to do with any of his many accomplishments on the baseball field.

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Jamal Collier is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Seitzer encouraged by workouts with Upton

New Braves hitting coach spent three days working on outfielder's swing

Seitzer encouraged by workouts with Upton

ATLANTA -- Through his first two years in Atlanta, B.J. Upton has provided plenty of reasons to assume his days as a productive Major Leaguer are complete. But Braves hitting coach Kevin Seitzer, after spending time working with Upton in Florida this week, has reason to be optimistic about his new project.

"I feel really, really good about it, because [Upton] was very open to everything that I suggested," Seitzer said. "We had a really good three days together -- three pretty intense days together. I think he feels pretty good about what I'm going to bring, and I feel good about the adjustments he has made."

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kimbrel excited to play for new-look Braves

All-Star closer isn't concerned with trade talks heading into 2015 season

Kimbrel excited to play for new-look Braves

ATLANTA -- As Braves president of baseball operations John Hart spent time late Thursday night talking about Jonny Gomes' addition and some of his other offseason moves, Hart again made it crystal clear that he has no desire to trade Craig Kimbrel.

This was certainly pleasing to the ears of Kimbrel, who has spent the past week hearing and reading opinions expressed by those who believe the Braves should trade him if they are in a rebuilding mode.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

S. Simmons ready after shedding shoulder issues

Reliever excited for upcoming season following injury-plagued 2014

S. Simmons ready after shedding shoulder issues

ATLANTA -- After getting a few months of rest this offseason, Shae Simmons is looking forward to the opportunity to prove that he can be the same impressive reliever that he was before right shoulder discomfort sidelined him for the final two months of the 2014 season.

Simmons has not experienced any discomfort since he began his preseason throwing exercises three weeks ago. The 24-year-old reliever will get a better feel for where he stands when he begins throwing off a mound next week.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves claim Perez off waivers from Yankees

Braves claim Perez off waivers from Yankees

ATLANTA -- The Braves added to their list of outfield candidates by claiming Eury Perez off waivers from the Yankees on Friday afternoon.

Perez has totaled just 26 games at the Major League level since making his debut with the Nationals in 2012. The 24-year-old outfielder appeared in four games with the Yanks last year, but he spent most of his season with the Nats' Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse, N.Y.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gomes, Braves agree on one-year contract

Hart expects the veteran outfielder to be a clubhouse leader in 2015

Gomes, Braves agree on one-year contract

ATLANTA -- As the Braves neared the completion of their aggressive roster reconstruction process, they targeted Jonny Gomes as the one available free agent who could help fill their void in left field and also enrich a clubhouse atmosphere that proved to be a concern last year.

Thus, president of baseball operations John Hart was certainly pleased on Thursday night, when Gomes agreed on terms for a one-year, $4 million contract that includes a $3 million vesting option for the 2016 season.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Optimistic Fredi eyes postseason for Braves

Skipper looks forward to mixing and matching new-look lineup

Optimistic Fredi eyes postseason for Braves

ATLANTA -- As the division-rival Nationals have strengthened their bid to win a second straight National League East crown, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez has read and heard all about how his team's flurry of significant offseason moves signal that 2015 will be a rebuilding year.

"Our goal is still to get in the playoffs," Gonzalez said. "That always will be my goal."

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minor pleased with pain-free offseason workouts

Braves lefty headed for salary-arbitration hearing in February

Minor pleased with pain-free offseason workouts

ATLANTA -- Mike Minor would have liked to avoid the salary-arbitration hearing that awaits him. But the Braves left-hander is otherwise pleased with what has transpired during his discomfort-free offseason.

Coming off a frustration-filled season during which he was plagued by left shoulder soreness, Minor admitted he initially wondered if he needed more than just a few months of rest. But while completing long-toss exercises in pain-free fashion over the past month, he has gained a sense that this year will be different.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Jim Callis

Bethancourt No. 9 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 C Prospects list

Red Sox's Swihart sits atop list, followed by Rangers' Alfaro and Cubs' Schwarber

Bethancourt No. 9 on MLB Pipeline's Top 10 C Prospects list

MLBPipeline.com's 2015 Top 100 Prospects list will be unveiled on Friday, Jan. 30, on MLB.com, with the Top 50 revealed during a one-hour show on MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET. Leading up to that, MLBPipeline.com takes a look at baseball's Top 10 prospects at each position.

Though only one catcher (Blake Swihart of the Red Sox) fits in the top 40 spots on MLBPipeline.com's upcoming 2015 Top 100 Prospects list, talent behind the plate actually runs deep. The Minors are teeming with backstops who have the tools to contribute offensively and defensively in the big leagues in the near future. This list could see a lot of turnover a year from now, as Christian Bethancourt figures to be the Braves' starter and Swihart, Kevin Plawecki (Mets) and J.T. Realmuto (Marlins) could be playing regularly in the Majors by season's end.

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Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com and writes a blog, Callis' Corner. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

K. Johnson returns to Braves on Minors deal

Veteran will vie for utility role at Major League Spring Training

K. Johnson returns to Braves on Minors deal

ATLANTA -- After spending the past four seasons making a complete tour of the American League East, Kelly Johnson is set to return to the organization that drafted him and made him one of the earliest members of the Baby Braves.

The Braves have signed Johnson to a Minor League contract and given him an invitation to compete for a roster spot at big league Spring Training. Johnson's versatility provides him a chance to serve as a utility player who could see time at second base, third base or left field.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Smoltz selects Braves Hall of Fame cap

Martinez's plaque will feature a Red Sox logo; other two pick longtime clubs

Smoltz selects Braves Hall of Fame cap

The Hall of Fame has announced the cap selections for the plaques of recent electees Craig Biggio, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz, with all three players choosing the teams they spent the most time with during their careers.

Biggio, who played his entire 20-year career in Houston, will wear the Astros cap; Martinez, who spent seven of his 18 seasons in Boston, will wear a Red Sox cap; and Smoltz, who spent 20 of his 21 years in Atlanta, will don a Braves hat.

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Joey Nowak is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joeynowak. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves eye Gomes as potential platoon player in left

Additional options include Almonte, Cunningham, Terdoslavich and Constanza

Braves eye Gomes as potential platoon player in left

ATLANTA -- Now that the Braves have restructured their organization through a flurry of significant changes, it appears their remaining offseason decisions will be influenced by whether they land Jonny Gomes.

Once Atlanta traded projected left fielder Evan Gattis to Houston last week, Gomes stood as the one unsigned free-agent outfielder who piqued the club's interest. The two parties have continued to talk, but at least one unidentified American League team is also showing interest in Gomes.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

No limitations for Wood heading into spring

No limitations for Wood heading into spring

ATLANTA -- As Alex Wood has spent the past few months going through his normal offseason preparations, he has not been given any reason to be concerned about the left forearm soreness that led the Braves to scratch him from starting their regular-season finale in September.

"I think once you have played baseball long enough, you kind of know if something is serious or not," Wood said. "I took two or three weeks off before I started lifting [weights] and all of that stuff. Once I got back into it, I waited another two weeks before I did a ton of upper body [workouts]. After about three weeks or a month, I was feeling normal."

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Wood got early glimpse of MadBum's power

Braves pitcher crossed paths with '14 World Series MVP in high school

Wood got early glimpse of MadBum's power

ATLANTA -- As Alex Wood watched Madison Bumgarner lead the Giants to their latest World Series title with one of the most dominant postseasons ever fashioned by a pitcher, he recognized the same competitive fire he had witnessed while watching Bumgarner pitch in a high school playoff game.

"I saw him play against Butler High School, a team that was in my conference," Wood said. "Butler had a guy, Mickey Brennan, who was a big football guy. Madison was 93-96 [mph], and he wouldn't miss a spot. He tried to go inside to [Brennan] and missed in, off the plate. He wasn't trying to buzz his tower or anything. Mickey had words for him. Madison literally threw his glove down and said, 'Let's go.' Then, he threw the next one behind his head."

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Smoltz looks ahead as Hall election sinks in

Smoltz looks ahead as Hall election sinks in

It's been two weeks since John Smoltz was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, but he's already looking forward to the day he is officially inducted alongside Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Craig Biggio.

Smoltz stopped by the set of MLB Network's "Hot Stove" show on Tuesday morning to discuss what comes next.

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Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @adamdberry. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Aaron recalls time with MLK

Aaron recalls time with MLK

ATLANTA -- As Hank Aaron reminisces about his baseball journey, which introduced him to both segregation and immortalization, he regrets that his interactions with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. amounted to just a few brief conversations.

"I can't recall discussing baseball with him," Aaron said. "I wish I had sat down and talked to him about certain things. I never had the chance to discuss anything with him at length. I never sat down with him long enough. He was busy and I was trying to figure out how to hit curveballs. I wish I had. It would have been an interesting conversation, just to listen to him."

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minor likely headed for arbitration hearing

If Braves continue MO, lefty would be club's first such case since 2001

Minor likely headed for arbitration hearing

ATLANTA -- It appears Mike Minor will become the first Braves player to experience an arbitration hearing since the club won its 2001 case against John Rocker.

The Braves and Minor's representatives halted negotiations early Friday afternoon with the mutual understanding that the left-handed pitcher's 2015 salary will be determined by a hearing that will be held at some point between Feb. 1-21 in Phoenix.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Optimistic Hart has no plans to deal Kimbrel

Braves' president of baseball operations believes club will be competitive next season

Optimistic Hart has no plans to deal Kimbrel

ATLANTA -- Now that the Braves have traded Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis, why would they choose to keep Craig Kimbrel when their offense is unlikely to be strong enough to provide the elite closer with consistent save opportunities?

Wouldn't it be wise to take advantage of his current trade value and avoid the risk that he might follow the same path as other closers, who have abruptly come to realize the short shelf life of dominance in this role?

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves maintain confidence in offense after major turnover

With Justin Upton, Gattis and Heyward out, Atlanta looking for new ways to produce

Braves maintain confidence in offense after major turnover

ATLANTA -- Those who watched the Braves in 2014 and then went into hibernation over the past two months might find it hard to believe some think their offense could prove to be even worse this season.

Such is the case now the Braves have traded Jason Heyward, Justin Upton and Evan Gattis. In exchange, they gained a drastically-improved farm system and legitimate concerns about how they will score runs in 2015.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves avoid arbitration with lefty reliever Russell

Minor stands as Atlanta's only unsigned player heading into Friday deadline to exchange figures

Braves avoid arbitration with lefty reliever Russell

ATLANTA -- The Braves and left-handed reliever James Russell avoided arbitration Thursday afternoon when they agreed to a one-year, $2.425 million contract.

Mike Minor now stands as Atlanta's only unsigned arbitration-eligible player. If Minor does not agree to a deal by Friday's deadline, he and the Braves will need to exchange salary arbitration figures.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves send Gattis to Astros for 3 prospects

Braves send Gattis to Astros for 3 prospects

ATLANTA -- After a couple months of speculation, the Braves completed the final significant phase of their roster reconstruction by trading Evan Gattis to the Astros.

The Braves traded Gattis and Minor League right-hander James Hoyt to the Astros in exchange for three prospects -- right-handed pitchers Michael Foltynewicz and Andrew Thurman and third baseman Rio Ruiz. The deal was announced by both clubs late Wednesday night.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

Gattis trade difficult for both Astros and Braves

Gattis trade difficult for both Astros and Braves

OK, Braves fans, take a deep breath. Yes, you will miss Evan Gattis. His power is impressive, his humility appealing. This is one of those times when the baseball team's bottom line collides with the emotion of losing a popular player.

Funny thing is, the Astros feel absolutely the same way. This trade stung from their end, too, although in a different way. Three years ago when Jeff Luhnow became the general manager, his primary goal was to build a great farm system.

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Richard Justice is a columnist for MLB.com. Read his blog, Justice4U. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Foltynewicz headlines Braves' impressive prospect haul

Ruiz and Thurman complete talented group making its way to Atlanta

Foltynewicz headlines Braves' impressive prospect haul

The Braves continued to retool on Wednesday, as new president of baseball operations John Hart traded Evan Gattis and Minor League reliever James Hoyt to the Astros for a trio of prospects. The price for Gattis was high, as it was when Hart traded outfielders Justin Upton and Jason Heyward earlier this winter. In exchange, the Astros get a player who has hit 43 home runs in 213 games in the Major Leagues at a time when power is down throughout baseball.

Gattis has been a catcher throughout his professional career and he has also played some left field and first base in the big leagues. Still, his best position might be designated hitter. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow has compiled impressive inventory at all of those positions, both in the big leagues and in the upper levels of the Minor Leagues.

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Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @tedcahill. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Source: Braves agree to deal with Wandy

Minor League contract with oft-injured southpaw pending physical

Source: Braves agree to deal with Wandy

ATLANTA -- Furthering their attempt to round out their starting rotation, the Braves have decided to take a chance on left-handed pitcher Wandy Rodriguez, who reportedly recently failed a physical after agreeing a Minor League deal with the Phillies. The Phils have not confirmed that report.

A source familiar with the negotiations confirmed that the Braves have agreed with Rodriguez on a Minor League contract and a Spring Training invite. The club has not confirmed this agreement, which is pending a physical.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Bernie Pleskoff

Pleskoff: Braves prospects on the cusp

Peraza, Bethancourt among top prospects who could impact big league club in 2015

Pleskoff: Braves prospects on the cusp

In this series, Bernie Pleskoff takes a team-by-team look at which top prospects are poised to make a contribution at the big league level in 2015.

The Braves have been aggressive in changing the makeup of their organization. Some of their newly-acquired prospects have additional development or injury rehabilitation to complete. But the big league club could welcome several prospects at some point this coming season.

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Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves' 300-starts club tops for Hall of Famers

Smoltz is among seven of the eight to reach Cooperstown

Braves' 300-starts club tops for Hall of Famers

ATLANTA -- As Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame over the past year, there has once again been reason to opine that the Braves rotations this trio inhabited during the 1990s were some of the greatest the game has ever seen.

While this is certainly a debatable assertion, the Braves can certifiably claim to have provided more starts to Hall of Fame starting pitchers than any other Major League organization.

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Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.