Notes: Salty among latest cuts

Notes: Salty among latest cuts

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia knows there will be many more big-league camps in his future. Sean White can only hope the positive impression he left during his first one will be a lasting one.

Saltalamacchia and White were among the 10 players sent back to Minor League camp when the Braves made their second round of cuts on Thursday afternoon. They now have 35 players remaining in camp.

Coming into his first big-league camp, Saltalamacchia, a 20-year-old switch-hitting catcher, knew there was the slimmest of chances that he'd begin this season on the Major League roster. But he still took advantage of his opportunity, belting three homers that seemingly hid the .206 batting average he produced.

"Pretty dang good impression," Braves manager Bobby Cox said of the young catcher known as Salty. "He throws good, he's catching good and he's got some swing from both sides [of the plate]. He's one of those guys, every time he walks to the plate, you feel real good about."

Saltalamacchia, who is considered one of the game's top catching prospects, hit .314 with 19 homers and 81 RBIs at Class A Myrtle Beach last year. He'll begin this season serving as Double-A Mississippi's catcher.

White, who allowed just three runs (all in one appearance) in 12 spring innings, will begin this year in Mississippi's rotation. There was some thought he might land the final spot in Atlanta's bullpen. But the Braves believe the right-hander, who will be 25 on April 25, needs to continue his development as a starting pitcher.

"We like him a lot," Cox said of White, who combined for 26 starts with Myrtle Beach and Mississippi last year. "He's really shown well here."

Other players sent to Minor League camp included Anthony Lerew, who was reassigned to Triple-A Richmond, and Wes Obermueller, who will also begin this season at Richmond. Both were considered legitimate candidates to earn a bullpen spot.

"He's much better than what he showed here," Cox said of Obermueller, who posted a 10.13 ERA in five Grapefruit League appearances.

The Braves also sent right-handed pitcher Chad Paronto and Travis Smith to Richmond. They'll be joined there by Cesar Crespo, David Kelton and Michael Ryan, a trio of longtime Minor Leaguers who didn't make a strong impression. Catcher Steve Pyzik was sent to Myrtle Beach's camp.

Thomson ignoring rumors: Whether they're planning to trade him or not, John Thomson certainly made the Braves happy with his best performance of the spring in Thursday afternoon's game against the Indians, which ended in a 1-1 tie after 10 innings.

In the process, it can be said that he either enhanced his trade value or at least provided the Braves reason to believe he's still capable of being a top-notch pitcher in the middle of a rotation.

Thomson, who had allowed four earned runs in three of his previous four starts, allowed one run and five hits in six innings. Afterward, he admitted that he's well aware of the fact the Braves may choose to trade him because he's one of six quality arms they have to fill their five-man starting rotation.

"It's there," Thomson said. "I have no control over it. All I can do every fifth day is pitch and get everybody out."

Before heading to the bullpen on Thursday, Thomson asked pitching coach Roger McDowell how much stock he put into Spring Training results. McDowell responded by telling the veteran right-hander that Tom Seaver had told him many years ago that pitchers shouldn't worry about their spring stats.

"This was a big confidence builder for me," said Thomson, who saw the Braves exercise his $4.75 million option in November.

One National League scout reconfirmed on Thursday that the Braves are trying to deal either Thomson or Jorge Sosa, who will make $2.2 million this year. But they're seeking bullpen help and other teams aren't willing to part with quality relievers.

Book again links Sheffield to steroids: Former Brave Gary Sheffield has once again been linked to steroids, this time in "Game of Shadows," the new book which deals with Barry Bonds and the BALCO case.

Andruw Jones denies having any knowledge of Sheffield ever using steroids. But he understands that there have been many players using different chemicals and substances for many years.

Starting this season, Major League Baseball has banned amphetamines, which have often been used in the form of pills called "greenies."

"Steroids have been around for a long time, man," Andruw Jones said. "And all the supplements, all the things people take to play the game -- the pills, the 'greenies' -- they've been around forever.

"Some of the greatest players that ever played took [greenies]. I'm not saying they took steroids. ... But greenies have been around the game forever, not just 10 years.

"But what can you say? You can't prove it. They played the game and they're done, and now what can you say?"

Relievers itching to get rolling: Blaine Boyer threw some 93-mph fastballs in an intrasquad Minor League game on Thursday morning. The right-handed reliever exited his one-inning stint feeling more confident that he's overcome the problems his inflamed right shoulder has provided since the end of last season.

"I felt like if I wanted to, I could have revved back and thrown 100 [mph]," Boyer said. "That's how good I felt."

Cox watched the inning, during which Boyer allowed two soft singles, and came away impressed. He says the right-handed reliever will throw another inning on Saturday.

"He excited me a little bit," Cox said. "He was throwing 91-93 [mph]. He threw some breaking balls and changeups. He looked good."

Like Boyer, Macay McBride, who hasn't pitched since March 6 because of a slight muscle strain above his left wrist, may not be ready for Opening Day. The left-handed reliever will throw on Friday and get a better feel of whether there's still discomfort when he throws his four-seam fastball.

"I have no doubt in my mind that, by the time we leave here, I'll be ready to go," McBride said. "My arm will be fully recovered."

If McBride and Boyer don't throw in a big-league game, they can be placed on the disabled list with a date retroactive to nine days before the start of the regular season. Thus they would be eligible to come off the DL on April 8, which is scheduled to be the Braves' sixth game of the year.

"I don't understand how all that works," McBride said. "I just want the sucker to feel good, and that's all that matters."

Braves bits: Jeff Francoeur banged his left shoulder while making a diving catch on Wednesday and was given a chance to rest on Thursday. He'll likely return to the lineup on Friday and be joined by Wilson Betemit, who hasn't played since March 13 because of a strained right rib cage. ... Kelly Johnson, who hasn't played since March 15 because of an ailing right elbow, has been cleared to pinch hit.

Coming up: Tim Hudson will start Friday night's game against the Nationals at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex. He'll be followed by Mike Remlinger, Lance Cormier and Chris Reitsma.

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