Dickey knows he's 'capable of a lot more'

Veteran knuckleballer anticipating first spring start with Braves

Dickey knows he's 'capable of a lot more'

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Though his final season with the Blue Jays was not as successful as he had wished, R.A. Dickey is approaching this season genuinely confident in his ability to give the Braves possibly more than they envisioned when they signed him to a one-year, $8 million contract in November.

"I knew I was capable of a lot more, which is why I'm here," Dickey said. "If I didn't, I would have retired."

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Freeman leads offense in Teheran's strong start

Freeman leads offense in Teheran's strong start

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Freddie Freeman recorded two hits and his former Atlanta teammate Evan Gattis enjoyed his return to ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex on Sunday, as the Astros used Max Stassi's two-run homer in the eighth inning to claim a 3-2 win over the Braves.

Stassi's two-run shot off Jose Ramirez proved decisive for the Astros as they claimed their first win of the Grapefruit League season. Ramirez notched a pair of strikeouts in a scoreless seventh inning, but he retired just two of five batters faced in the eighth.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Albies anxious to see big league play

After injury rehab, prospect could make Grapefruit League debut soon

Albies anxious to see big league play

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After spending the past few weeks patiently undergoing the final stages of rehab for his freak elbow fracture, highly regarded Braves prospect Ozzie Albies is now anxious to make his Grapefruit League debut, possibly early next week.

With Brandon Phillips set to serve as their second baseman, the Braves really have no reason to rush Albies, who is likely at least a few months away from being Major League ready. But there is still a chance the 20-year-old prospect could begin playing in Spring Training games as early as March 7, when the Braves are scheduled to play the Pirates in Bradenton, Fla.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Colon puts focus on location more than results

In debut, Braves hurler effective in 2 innings of work

Colon puts focus on location more than results

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As he prepares for his 20th Major League season, Bartolo Colon certainly isn't going to allow himself to be bothered by the results he garners during exhibition games. But at 43 years old, the ageless wonder can certainly take pride in the fact that he is still physically capable of doing what he has always done best.

Colon didn't necessarily have pinpoint command as he provided two innings for the Braves as they claimed a 7-4 win over the Blue Jays during a mutual Grapefruit League season opener on Saturday afternoon at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex. But the beloved hurler still proved effective, while more importantly providing indication he still soundly understands the art of pitching.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Freeman honors mother by playing for Canada

Freeman honors mother by playing for Canada

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman always wears long sleeves, even on the hottest days. He does it to honor his mother, Rosemary, who died of skin cancer. He also wears a cross-shaped locket around his neck with her hair inside.

Beginning March 6, though, he's going to pay tribute in a way he wasn't sure would ever be possible. That's when he'll put on the uniform of Team Canada for the first workout in preparation for this year's World Baseball Classic.

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

Colon limits damage in first spring start

Colon limits damage in first spring start

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Bartolo Colon minimized damage over the first two innings and Anthony Recker delivered a two-run single in a four-run fifth inning that propelled the Braves toward a 7-4 win over the Blue Jays in a mutual Grapefruit League season opener at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex on Saturday afternoon.

"It was good to just get the guys out there and get some at-bats and run around and get the exertion from playing games," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "Everybody looked pretty good."

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Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Jackson impresses in front of grandparents

Right-hander tosses perfect ninth inning in Braves debut

Jackson impresses in front of grandparents

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When the Braves acquired Luke Jackson from the Rangers in December, it was easy to look at his stats and assume he was simply another of those hard-throwing hurlers whose primary liability was finding the strike zone.

But Jackson, 25, has caught the attention of many of Atlanta's coaches through the early portion of Spring Training, and he did nothing to hurt his stock as he produced a perfect ninth inning to conclude Saturday's 7-4 win over the Blue Jays in a mutual Grapefruit League season opener at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves claim 1B/OF Walker off waivers

Braves claim 1B/OF Walker off waivers

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Christian Walker doesn't necessarily satisfy the Braves' desire to improve their bench before the regular season begins. But his presence will at least provide some organizational depth and insurance to protect against the possibility Freddie Freeman could be sidelined at some point this season.

Designated for assignment by the Orioles last week, Walker was claimed off waivers by the Braves on Saturday. The 25-year-old first baseman and outfielder batted .264 with 18 homers and a .757 OPS for Triple-A Norfolk last year.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dickey in reflective mood as spring play opens

Veteran knuckleballer talks about his four seasons in Toronto before Blue Jays play Braves

Dickey in reflective mood as spring play opens

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There were signs that R.A. Dickey's time with the Blue Jays was running out late last season: He made only three appearances in September, and he wasn't included on the postseason roster.

So it wasn't surprising when the 42-year-old knuckleballer wasn't pursued as a free agent by Toronto. He eventually signed with the Braves. And before Saturday's Grapefruit League opener at Champion Stadium between his last team and his current club, he reflected on the four years he spent in Toronto.

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

Winkler's injury spurs change in mechanics

Braves pitcher makes progress after fractured elbow

Winkler's injury spurs change in mechanics

LAKE BUENA VISTA , Fla. -- Though the gruesome sequence led him to the lowest point of his career, Braves reliever Daniel Winkler has repeatedly watched video clips of the moment he fractured his right elbow while throwing a pitch against the Cardinals on April 10.

While this might seem somewhat masochistic to some, Winkler, 27, has studied the sequence, as he has searched for a way to alter his mechanics and distance himself from the frustration he has felt while spending most of the past 2½ seasons on the disabled list with an elbow injury.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

d'Arnaud ready to fill in at all positions

Braves utility player a top option off bench after injury to Rodriguez

d'Arnaud ready to fill in at all positions

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After A.J. Pierzynski was ejected from a game last year, Chase d'Arnaud responded to a request for an emergency catcher volunteer by saying, "Well, it's in my blood, my brother catches, so I can do it."

The versatile d'Arnaud, 30, hasn't yet gotten into a game to fill the role his younger brother Travis performs for the Mets, but after being removed from a game that required extra innings last year, he rushed to the Braves bullpen and caught Jim Johnson's warmup pitches.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Coppolella marvels at 'much-improved' talent

Coppolella marvels at 'much-improved' talent

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Atlanta general manager John Coppolella has engineered a massive rebuilding process that has evolved quicker than initially envisioned. Just two years after beginning it, the Braves have the potential to exceed many expectations and enrich the memories created during SunTrust Park's inaugural season.

Having had a chance to get a glimpse of his team during the early portion of Spring Training, Coppolella talked to MLB.com about what he has seen, what he hopes to see and what he might do before the regular season begins.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves sign former NFL player to Minor League deal

Sanders Commings played for Chiefs in 2013

Braves sign former NFL player to Minor League deal

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Sanders Commings has played defensive back for the University of Georgia and the Kansas City Chiefs since last playing baseball. But the Braves were intrigued enough by his athleticism to sign him to a Minor League deal.

"We feel this is a tremendous athlete and an even better person," Braves general manager John Coppolella said. "Our mantra has always been to leave no stone unturned. What's the downside here?"

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Prospect Peterson hoping for family reunion in Majors

Prospect Peterson hoping for family reunion in Majors

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- While Braves outfielder Dustin Peterson successfully navigated his way through his first few seasons of professional baseball, he routinely leaned on his older brother D.J., who is one of the top prospects in Seattle's system.

"We talk throughout the season," Dustin said. "When we're going well, we'll let each other know what's clicking or what's working. We kind of bounce back and forth. If we're in a slump, we'll tell each other this might work or that might work. It's kind of awesome having a brother to go to like that."

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Demeritte provides power potential for Braves

Prospect brings offensive depth to Atlanta farm system

Demeritte provides power potential for Braves

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Travis Demeritte did not know what to think when one of his Class A Advanced High Desert coaches informed him he was not allowed to take early batting practice before a July 27 game. The Trade Deadline was a few days away, but as he sat idly in the clubhouse, he didn't anticipate what he was about to hear.

A few days earlier, one of his teammates had been victimized by a clubhouse prank involving Chris Sale trade rumors. So, when Demeritte was informed that the Rangers had traded him to the Braves in exchange for Lucas Harrell and Dario Alvarez, he was initially skeptical.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Blair hoping slider will propel him into rotation

Right-hander developed pitch in Triple-A, K'd 10 in final start of '16

Blair hoping slider will propel him into rotation

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Aaron Blair has returned to Spring Training with the out pitch he finally developed just in time to end his frustrating rookie season, when he threw a dazzling 10-strikeout performance against the Tigers. But the Braves right-hander understands that last year's inconsistencies potentially mean he'll to need to wait for another call to the Majors.

Influenced by last season's late success, and the desire to field a much more competitive team during SunTrust Park's inaugural season, the Braves acquired three veteran starting pitchers -- Bartolo Colon, R.A. Dickey and Jaime Garcia -- this past offseason. In doing so, they created the likelihood that Blair and Matt Wisler will both begin the season with Triple-A Gwinnett.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves evaluating options for bench roles

d'Arnaud, Peterson among choices to fill 'super utility' role

Braves evaluating options for bench roles

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- "Super utility" is the term increasingly used to describe hitters who can field several positions, and whose bats managers want to keep in the lineup. They are baseball's Swiss army knife.

In previous seasons with the Pirates, this term applied to Sean Rodriguez, who recently underwent shoulder surgery and could miss the entire 2017 season.

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Zak Kerr is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves' new additions take part in BP

Phillips, Garcia and Dickey look forward to chance to contribute

Braves' new additions take part in BP

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Even with more than 31 combined years of Major League service time, second baseman Brandon Phillips, right-hander R.A. Dickey and left-hander Jaime Garcia relished their first opportunity to face live batting practice opponents as members of the Braves.

"That's when you really know Spring Training's starting up and it's getting heated," Phillips said. "It's good just to see some live pitching."

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Zak Kerr is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Snitker weighs in on pace-of-play debate

Braves manager among contingent resistant to rule changes

Snitker weighs in on pace-of-play debate

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves manager Brian Snitker is among the contingent hesitant to make any drastic rule changes as Major League Baseball attempts to improve pace of play. But, as he gained his first experience as a big league manager last year he recognized the replay process can create some unwanted dead time.

A portion of this delay is created by the time it takes managers to decide whether or not to challenge a call that has been made on the field. But Snitker is also among those who would like a quicker decision from the umpires who review the challenges.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bartolo Colon on Photo Day is true love

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Bartolo Colon on Photo Day is true love

Valentine's Day may have been last week, but with Bartolo Colon, romance is always in the air. 

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Newcomb bringing confidence, command to camp

After struggles in early 2016, prospect working on consistency

Newcomb bringing confidence, command to camp

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When Sean Newcomb came to his first big league Spring Training this past year, he had to deal with the pressure that accompanied being both an elite prospect and the targeted return in the trade that sent Atlanta's beloved shortstop Andrelton Simmons to Anaheim just a few months earlier.

Understandably nervous and somewhat wide-eyed, Newcomb struggled in camp, and then he saw his inconsistent command continue to plague him through the first half of 2016 with Double-A Mississippi. But a strong finish has helped the 23-year-old southpaw look a little more relaxed since he returned to Braves' Spring Training this past week.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves hope P. Rodriguez emerges as key lefty

After posting great stats vs. left-handed hitters, reliever missed 2016 due to Tommy John surgery

Braves hope P. Rodriguez emerges as key lefty

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Nearly two full years have passed since Paco Rodriguez's left elbow has been healthy enough for him to pitch in a Major League game. But if the left-handed reliever pitches effectively during Spring Training, he could open the season as a key piece in Atlanta's bullpen.

Rodriguez missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and he has understandably shown occasional signs of rust during the bullpen sessions he has completed within the first week of Spring Training. But because he is feeling healthy, he has passed the only test that matters at this point of the year.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hart has three messages for fans on Presidents Day

Hart has three messages for fans on Presidents Day

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves president of baseball operations John Hart has overseen the massive rebuilding efforts the club has made since he assumed this role at the end of the 2014 season.

Teaming with his top aide, general manager John Coppolella, Hart has guided the Braves through the oft-frustrating period of rebuild, and he has reshaped both the big league roster and farm system with the intent to provide Atlanta fans a chance to experience the sustained success they became accustomed to during the 1990s and early part of this century.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

After accident, S. Rodriguez says he feels grateful

Braves player discusses family's strength and hopes to play this season

After accident, S. Rodriguez says he feels grateful

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Sean Rodriguez never envisioned he would introduce himself to his new Braves teammates while wearing an arm sling and staring at the likelihood of being sidelined throughout the upcoming season.

But when Rodriguez was forced to do so after coming to the Braves' Spring Training complex on Sunday afternoon, he remained comforted by the daily gratitude he has felt since he, his wife, Giselle, and two of their children survived a Jan. 28 car accident that claimed the life of a man who had stolen a police car in Miami.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Fried awestruck attending first big league camp

Pitching prospect ready to compete with teammates he grew up watching

Fried awestruck attending first big league camp

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Max Fried came to his first big league camp intent on not allowing himself to be in awe of his surroundings. But the challenge hasn't necessarily been easy for the highly regarded Braves prospect, who grew up rooting for Matt Kemp and the Dodgers.

Along with having his locker just a few steps away from the one utilized by Kemp, Fried has also had the pleasure to spend the first week of Spring Training being paired in the same group as Bartolo Colon for pitcher fielding drills. Fried was just 3 years old when Colon made his Major League debut and thus has never known the Major Leagues to exist without the presence of Big Bart.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Ruiz arrives at Braves camp with new body

Infielder spent offseason training to get in better shape

Ruiz arrives at Braves camp with new body

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Rio Ruiz might be unrecognizable to those who haven't seen him within the 16-plus months that have passed since he received a motivational message delivered from Braves president of baseball operations John Hart, who simply wanted the third base prospect to recognize the potential benefits of getting in better shape.

Ruiz, who was traded to the Braves in January 2015 in a five-player deal that sent Evan Gattis to the Astros, impressed the Braves when he arrived at Spring Training last year, having taken 20 pounds off the 240-pound frame he carried at the end of the 2015 season. But that was just the start of the transformation for the 22-year-old corner infielder, who came to camp this year weighing a svelte 208 pounds.

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Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.