Spring training cranks up this week. My recap of the Braves’ big off-season moves goes like this: They shipped Derek Lowe to Cleveland. And that was about it.
This was a club that destrcuted down the stretch, giving St. Louis a golden ticket into the playoffs when the Cards hopes were dead. We all remembered what happened next. The Cards owe Atlanta an incredible thank you (or at least a slice of their World Series bonus). But that was last season. The Braves obviously like what they have. I’ve found three reasons for this thinking.
1) Jason Heyward. He did everything in 2010, then plummeted in 2011. The team feels 2010 Heyward is coming back. Here’s why. He was hurt (right shoulder injury – more on that in a moment), he was heavier, and he couldn’t hit inside fastballs. The offseason took care of the first, he dropped 20 pounds for the seconds, and worked with new hitting coach Greg Walker for the third.
2) Injuries. If it seemed like everyone was hurt, it’s because it was. Brain McCann, Martin Prado, Tommy Hanson, Jair Jurrjens all missed significant time. But the good thing about spring is that everybody is healthy on every team. That is until the toil of the regular season wears on some teams. Which one gets it is almost a lottery.
3) The bullpen. Rookies Johnny Venters and Craig Kimbrel were lights out until September and then mortal afterward. To put it another way, they got smashed by the rookie wall. They’ll probably have better endurance for this season, and to help them along, the coaches plan on spacing out their innings and ease them into spring training.
Whether this is enough to catch Philly is an open question. We won’t know anything until June. But that’s the beauty of the spring. Everyone is at the same spot, and everyone is very optimistic.
About the Author
Written by John Morgo
John Morgo lives in Atlanta, GA where he has done broadcast work for CNN, The Weather Channel and Encompass Digital Media. As of right now, he does Internet play-by-play for Georgia Perimeter College and Norcross High School. With GPC, he is the voice of the men's soccer, basketball, and baseball teams.