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.

Continue Reading

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 gets nod for Saturday's Grapefruit League opener

Colon gets nod for Saturday's Grapefruit League opener

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Bartolo Colon will get things started when he takes the mound for the Braves at 1:05 p.m. ET on Saturday in the Grapefruit League opener against the Blue Jays at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex.

After Thursday's workout, Braves manager Brian Snitker announced Colon, Julio Teheran, R.A. Dickey, Mike Foltynewicz and Jaime Garcia will serve as his starting pitchers through the exhibition season's first five games.

Continue Reading

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."

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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."

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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

|
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. 

Continue Reading on Cut4

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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.

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.

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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."

Continue Reading

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."

Continue Reading

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."

Continue Reading

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

|
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. 

Continue Reading on Cut4

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.

Continue Reading

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."

Continue Reading

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.

Continue Reading

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."

Continue Reading

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.