LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- With Freddie Freeman entrenched at first base, Ernesto Mejia does not appear to be a likely candidate for the Opening Day roster. But the big Venezuelan certainly caught the attention of the Braves with the success he produced last year at Triple-A Gwinnett and in the Venezuelan Winter League.
"He's an interesting guy," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "You look at the roster and the way the team is set up, and you say he doesn't fit. Well, if we maybe want to bring a right-handed bat off the bench. ... Or you never wish somebody gets hurt, but at least you feel comfortable enough that he could fill in."
Mejia's odds of making the Opening Day roster are negatively influenced by the fact his defensive options are limited to first base. In addition, he has never been subjected to the challenges of staying ready as a bench player.
"I continue to do my best," Mejia said. "We'll see what they decide. The only thing I can do is my work on the field."
Mejia was named the Venezuelan Winter League's Most Valuable Player after hitting .298 with 16 homers and a .891 OPS in 61 games.