Braves to ease pitchers into throwing BP this spring

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Dating back to the days of Bobby Cox and former pitching coach Leo Mazzone, the Braves always had their pitchers begin throwing live batting practice on the first day of Spring Training workouts for pitchers and catchers.

But, per a request made by current pitching coach Roger McDowell, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez opted to end the tradition this year. The pitchers will not begin throwing batting practice to live hitters until the club holds its first full-squad workout on Wednesday.

Instead of throwing to live hitters, pitchers have been throwing off the bullpen mounds located throughout the Spring Training complex.

"You're only supposed to throw 35 pitches, but it's a little more intense 35 pitches [during live BP]," Gonzalez said. "I remember a couple guys had to back off the rubber because they were gassed [last year]. This year, we went with more of the traditional-type bullpens. Guys get more out of it. The [bullpens] aren't as intense."

Three Braves pitchers -- Luis Vasquez, Atahualpa Severino and Lay Batista -- have not yet arrived in camp because of visa issues that have prevented them from traveling to the United States. Vasquez is among the favorites to win one of the final available spots in the bullpen.

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