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Clinic to give Braves' hurlers jump start on season

Hudson, Medlen, Kimbrel expected to participate in voluntary throwing program

Clinic to give Braves' hurlers jump start on season

ATLANTA -- The Braves are less than a month away from staging their first Spring Training workouts in Florida. But some of the club's pitchers will get an early start when they come to Turner Field to participate in a voluntary early throwing program next week.

Tim Hudson, Kris Medlen and Craig Kimbrel are among the pitchers expected to participate during at least a portion of the program, which will begin on Tuesday and run until Feb. 4.

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Braves pitchers and catchers will report to Spring Training on Feb. 11 and participate in their first workout the following day at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex. The first full-squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 15.

Medlen and Kimbrel will spend the next few weeks preparing to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. The only other Braves pitcher who could pitch in this year's Classic is left-handed reliever Luis Avilan, who is a candidate to be part of Venezuela's bullpen.

This early throwing program provides the pitchers an opportunity to strengthen their arms and be prepared to throw off the mound when they arrive for the start of Spring Training. In addition, the event gives pitching coach Roger McDowell a chance to see some of the organization's top pitching prospects.

Some of the prospects expected to make an appearance include Sean Gilmartin and J.R. Graham, both of whom are scheduled to participate in the Braves Country Caravan that will be staged from Jan. 22-Feb. 2.

Having recently completed a stint in the Dominican Winter League, Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado are not expected to be in Atlanta for this year's event. But barring any trades, both talented young hurlers are expected to be a part of the Opening Day roster.

Teheran and Delgado are expected to come to Spring Training to battle for the fifth spot in the rotation. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez's current plan is to put one of the right-handers in his rotation and the other in the bullpen as a long reliever.

The most significant change to the pitching staff occurred in December when the Braves traded Tommy Hanson to the Angels for hard-throwing right-hander Jordan Walden. Walden, who notched 32 saves for the Angels in 2011, is expected to serve as a middle reliever in Atlanta. The club does not know if he plans to participate in the early throwing program.

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

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