Braves intrigued by new bullpen arms in camp

Braves intrigued by new bullpen arms in camp

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez might not have to make a lot of decisions to complete his bullpen. But as he has been introduced to some new arms over the past few days, he has learned he might have to make some tough decisions at the end of camp.

Big right-hander Adam Russell, who has some Major League experience, and 22-year-old left-hander Luis Avilan and 25-year-old right-hander Jason Rice are among the bullpen candidates who have made strong first impressions on Gonzalez and other members of the coaching staff during the early days of camp.

"There's been a couple guys that you go, 'Man, this guy is pretty good," said Gonzalez, who might have only two bullpen spots to fill before the start of the regular season.

Russell has made 85 Major League appearances over the past four seasons. The 6-foot-8 right-hander's control problems became an issue last year when he walked 20 and recorded 13 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings with the Rays.

Avilan recorded 78 strikeouts and issued 36 walks while being used as both a starter and reliever over a span of 106 1/3 innings with Double-A Mississippi last year. Rice posted a 3.69 ERA and recorded 9.39 strikeouts per nine innings in 85 1/3 innings with Triple-A Pawtucket last year.