Swanson gets custom glove to honor fallen friend

Swanson gets custom glove to honor fallen friend

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson takes the field this year, he'll once again be able to look at his glove and proudly remember the times he spent with Dai-Jon Parker, a former Vanderbilt University basketball player who passed away two years ago.

Swanson received his new Wilson A2000 glove before the Braves staged their first full-squad workout on Saturday. The leather that will rest upon his left thumb is adorned with the words "All Dai", a tribute to Parker, who was 22-years-old when he drowned after being involved in a tubing accident on an Indiana lake.

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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 cautiously optimistic about Vizcaino

Reliever looks to remain healthy, secure bullpen role

Braves cautiously optimistic about Vizcaino

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Arodys Vizcaino has totaled 101 big league appearances since he debuted in 2011 as a hotshot 20-year-old Braves reliever who seemingly had a very bright future. This six-year span has been tarnished by a long recovery from Tommy John surgery and the shoulder discomfort that plagued him last year, after he had established himself as Atlanta's closer.

While the Braves are hopeful Vizcaino will remain healthy enough to serve as an asset at the back end of the bullpen this year, they are obviously cognizant of his health history. But the 26-year-old right-hander did at least provide some early encouragement as he popped his fastball and slider with ease during a bullpen session completed Saturday afternoon.

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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.

Minter makes good first impression on Snitker

Minter makes good first impression on Snitker

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Two years after seeing his final season at Texas A&M cut short by Tommy John surgery, Braves lefty reliever A.J. Minter has come to his first big league Spring Training and quickly made an impression on manager Brian Snitker.

"When you watch him throw a side, it's like he's in the eighth inning with the bases loaded," Snitker said. "He's intense. You can't help but like what he shows you on the side. Talking to guys who had him last year, he's pretty good."

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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.

Phillips excited to play for hometown Braves

Veteran second baseman details his side of story about trade to Atlanta

Phillips excited to play for hometown Braves

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When given another opportunity to play for his hometown team again this past weekend, Brandon Phillips didn't waver from his decision to approve the trade that ended his long tenure with the Reds and made him the latest addition to the Braves lineup.

"I wanted it to happen a long time ago, but things happen," Phillips said. "There are different sides. I never thought it would happen, but I told my agent, 'You've got to make this happen.' I miss Cincinnati. That's always home. But Atlanta is my home, home."

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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 expecting to be competitive this season

Players, manager believe rebuilding process is behind them

Braves expecting to be competitive this season

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As many of the Braves players have arrived at Spring Training expressing confidence in the club's potential for the upcoming season, they have made it clear they no longer feel restricted by the effects of a rebuilding process.

"I don't look at this as a rebuild," Braves left fielder Matt Kemp said. "I look at this as a team that can compete and go out there and play with any team out there. Hopefully, this is not a rebuild. I want to win baseball games. I feel like we have a team that can go out there and win, especially with these veteran guys that they are bringing in. I don't think that's a rebuild stage."

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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, Phillips share OIympic connection to Atlanta

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Dickey, Phillips share OIympic connection to Atlanta

When SunTrust Park officially opens in April, R.A. Dickey will be the only member of this year's Braves team who can say he has played a game at each of Atlanta's past three baseball stadiums. But he no longer stands as the only member who will have worn a uniform while working at each of those ballparks.

Dickey will now have to share that distinction with the recently-acquired Brandon Phillips, who served as batboy when Dickey and his United States teammates played at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium during the 1996 Olympics. 

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Freeman feels this year's optimism is genuine

Braves enter Spring Training with renewed motivation, confidence

Freeman feels this year's optimism is genuine

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Freddie Freeman was among those Braves who expressed optimism before each of the past two seasons, while fully understanding nothing short of miracle would prevent the team from enduring losing seasons during the early portion of a rebuilding process.

But with two years of an accelerated and aggressive rebuild now complete, Freeman has come to Spring Training with the firm belief that the Braves truly are ready to contend this year, and possibly further exceed expectations by making a strong run through October.

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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' catchers adapting to knuckleball

Flowers, Suzuki may split time behind the plate this season

Braves' catchers adapting to knuckleball

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves manager Brian Snitker will keep an open mind as he determines whether Tyler Flowers or Kurt Suzuki will serve as knuckleballer R.A. Dickey's catcher this year. Both veterans will prepare for the role and there's a chance they'll actually end up splitting it.

"We're going to need both of those guys to catch him," Snitker said. "If somebody gets banged up or something, the other guy is going to have to be ready to do it. We'll let them both catch him [during Spring Training]. Maybe there will be one guy who he is more comfortable with or one guy who is more comfortable catching him. Maybe we'll get the two guys ready and it won't matter. We can just split a series up based on matchups and things 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.

Braves' Snitker prepares to fill in voids

Rodriguez's injury creates opportunity for players at nearly every position

Braves' Snitker prepares to fill in voids

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Braves understood the significant value Sean Rodriguez could have brought via his versatility. Now that they are preparing to go through the upcoming season without him, they are constantly reminded of how his absence will affect their plans for every infield and outfield position.

With Rodriguez likely to miss the season after undergoing surgery on his left shoulder, Jace Peterson and Chase d'Arnaud could both assume an enhanced role that would allow them to showcase the value they can bring via their respective abilities to play each of the infield and outfield positions.

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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 eager to start new season with Braves

43-year-old pitcher looking to make history in Atlanta

Colon eager to start new season with Braves

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Instead of accepting the assumption that Bartolo Colon would eventually re-sign with the Mets, Braves president of baseball operations, John Hart, successfully lured his old friend south with 12.5 million reasons why it would make more sense for him to bring his record chase to Atlanta.

"Yeah, I definitely had the idea that I was probably going to stay with the Mets at the end of the season," Colon said. "My family is up there, but it's a business and I had to do what was right for me and my family."

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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.

Rodriguez likely out for '17 after shoulder surgery

Infielder undergoes procedure to repair torn rotator cuff in left shoulder

Rodriguez likely out for '17 after shoulder surgery

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Braves' Sean Rodriguez will likely miss the entire 2017 season after undergoing left shoulder surgery on Tuesday afternoon.

Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery on Rodriguez, who suffered a complete tear of his left rotator cuff during a fatal car accident that occurred in Miami on Jan. 28. The Braves did not declare Rodriguez will miss the entirety of the upcoming season, but there is little reason to believe he will return before next 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.

First glimpses of Colon at Braves camp

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First glimpses of Colon at Braves camp

In case you weren't aware, baseball's back.

Spring Training, to be exact, has begun around the league as players begin their spring assignments in Arizona or Florida. 

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Kemp arrives to camp in great shape

Veteran shed roughly 15 pounds during offseason

Kemp arrives to camp in great shape

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- One quick glimpse at Matt Kemp serves as sufficient evidence of the commitment he made this offseason to get into better shape and silence those who criticized the extra weight he carried last year.

"He looks great," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "When I saw him, I said, 'You look like you did when you played center field for the Dodgers. He's in great shape."

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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.

Entering camp, Braves optimistic about '17

Coming off three straight losing seasons, offseason additions have team hoping for more this year

Entering camp, Braves optimistic about '17

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The offseason is over, the roster has been remade and Spring Training has arrived. Soon, the Braves will have an opportunity to prove whether there is legitimate reason to believe they're ready to enter the next phase of their rebuilding process.

"For me, it's legit," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "I think, with our club, what we did and what we accomplished last year and how we ended and going into this year, I think it's a legit feeling. There's a positivity and a want to get after it. We haven't even worked out, and I'm ready to get the games going."

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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.

Return in sight, Albies takes field

Highly touted prospect has started baseball activities following freak injury last fall

Return in sight, Albies takes field

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- After taking some swings in the batting cage and before heading to the weight room Tuesday afternoon, Ozzie Albies checked with third-base coach Ron Washington to see when he needed to be on the field to begin infield drills Wednesday morning.

"Be out here at 7:30," Washington replied.

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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.

Garcia mulling WBC 2017 opportunity

Veteran starter considering offer to join Team Mexico's roster

Garcia mulling WBC 2017 opportunity

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves left-handed pitcher Jaime Garcia is still debating whether to accept the opportunity to pitch for his native Mexico in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

"There are some conversations that need to happen before [a decision is made]," Garcia said. "I love my country. I've always wanted to represent them, but my priority is the Atlanta Braves because of how much they have invested in me and believe in me. So I'm focused on being ready in April and through October."

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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 land 3-time All-Star Phillips from Reds

Atlanta deals 2 Minor League pitchers to Cincinnati

Braves land 3-time All-Star Phillips from Reds

ATLANTA -- After recently becoming more concerned about the lingering effects a Jan. 28 auto accident had on Sean Rodriguez's left shoulder, the Braves acted quickly to acquire Brandon Phillips from the Reds in exchange for two Minor League pitchers.

The Braves announced the trade on Sunday afternoon, about 48 hours after they learned Rodriguez might miss a significant portion of the upcoming season.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Richard Justice

More to Phillips' legacy than his infectious smile

Braves' new second baseman hailed for all-around impact

More to Phillips' legacy than his infectious smile

Brandon Phillips probably signed more than 30,000 autographs during 11 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, and that's not an insignificant part of his legacy.

Phillips also contributed both time and money to a variety of community projects around Cincinnati, including the Reds Urban Youth Academy. In the dead of winter, he would join the Reds Caravan for stops in West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana.

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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.

How Phillips and Colon ended up as teammates

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How Phillips and Colon ended up as teammates

Fifteen years after Bartolo Colon and Brandon Phillips swapped teams as part of a blockbuster trade that is still reverberating throughout MLB, the two will be teammates for the 2017 season. On Sunday, the Braves and Reds completed a deal that will send Phillips to Atlanta, where, every five days, he will position himself behind Colon on the mound.

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Braves start spring with intriguing new pieces

Rotation additions Colon, Dickey, Garcia could accelerate return to contention

Braves start spring with intriguing new pieces

ATLANTA -- Though it is not easy to endure the frustration felt during the early portion of a rebuilding effort, the events that unfold within this span provide the context necessary to fully understand and appreciate what transpires once the plan takes shape and potentially leads to an extended era of success.

As the Braves welcome their players to Spring Training this week, they'll prepare to experience the next chapter of their massive rebuild. The story took a turn with last season's strong finish and it gained a few new intriguing characters as this offseason was highlighted by the revamping of what is now a more formidable and experienced starting rotation.

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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' biggest roster decision lies in bullpen

Club weighing whether or not to employ a 7- or 8-man relief corps

Braves' biggest roster decision lies in bullpen

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Braves squad each day this week. Today's topic: Predicting the 25-man roster

ATLANTA -- When the Braves became concerned that Sean Rodriguez could miss the early portion of this season while recovering from a left shoulder ailment, they altered their plans by trading for second baseman Brandon Phillips.

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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 aim to surpass expectations in '17

Veteran Kemp, young Swanson could be key to club's ascension

Braves aim to surpass expectations in '17

With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Braves squad each day this week. Today's topic: The perfect season

ATLANTA -- While it is certainly wise to remain somewhat realistic about the expectations expressed within the optimistic period known as Spring Training, it is also every fan's right to allow themselves to dream about the possibility of delighting in the unexpected turn of events every baseball season can bring.

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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.

MLB.com Columnist

Anthony Castrovince

Bart Land: The Last Pitcher Show?

Bart Land: The Last Pitcher Show?

In a world of fiery fastballs and sculpted bodies and athletic ageism, one man set about to change everything we think we know about Major League Baseball.

He slung slop, but he threw strikes. His belly jiggled, but he was amazingly agile. He reached his 40s, but he kept getting people out.

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Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Braves, dignitaries honor trailblazing Lucas

Braves, dignitaries honor trailblazing Lucas

ATLANTA -- As an emotional Rubye Lucas participated in a ceremony honoring her late husband at SunTrust Park on Thursday afternoon, she expressed her gratitude to the Braves by repeatedly referencing the lyrics to "I Thank You", a song released by Sam & Dave in 1968 and covered by ZZ Top a decade later.

"You didn't have to do what you did, but you did, and I thank you" essentially served as the heart of the message Lucas conveyed while speaking to Hank Aaron, Dale Murphy and other Braves dignitaries who gathered on this February day to celebrate the legacy created by Bill Lucas, a baseball pioneer whose memory will be honored at SunTrust Park just as it had been at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field.

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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.