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The Official 2012 Atlanta Braves Spring Training Thread

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Braves convinced everything can’t go wrong again

6:20 pm February 25, 2012, by Jeff Schultz

022512Braves05.JPG

Fredi Gonzalez address team before Braves' first full-squad workout of spring. (Jason Getz/AJC)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – They’re all here, a rare thing in these panic-and-detonate times in pro sports. Late-season collapses generally are followed my somebody in the front office looping wire around several big toes, running it to a wooden box that reads, “Acme TNT,” and pushing down on the plunger.

Not with the Braves. There was no kaboom in the winter.

On the first day of full-squad workouts in spring training Saturday, almost every player from a year ago, save the anchor, Derek Lowe, was there: Dan Uggla, who was still hitting .173 on July 4; Jason Heyward, who messed up his shoulder and then everything inside his head; Martin Prado, who struggled and added staph infection to his list of career ailments; Brian McCann, who went into a slump and, for the first time in his life, couldn’t locate a solution; Jair Jurrjens, who followed a 12-3 first half with a 1-3 second half and a season-ending knee injury.

The Braves took the rare soul-cleansing approach to failure: They stepped back, took a breath, lit some candles, opened the chakras, serentized and moved on.

I know. It doesn’t play well on blogs, fan message boards and sports talk radio. So does that make it wrong?

Funny. Through all of those improbable, dramatic, oh-my-God-I-can’t-believe-that-just-happened finishes in the 1990s, nobody ever proclaimed, “Ah, phooey. The Braves got lucky. They need big changes.”

Some perspective from Chipper Jones: “Should the Cardinals have even been in the playoffs? No. Should we have been in the playoffs? Yeah.

Should the Rangers have won the World Series. Yeah. But none of that happened. I think if you look back over the last 20 years, we had our share of games where we snatched victory from the jaws of defeat — back in the heyday. Maybe it’s somebody’s way of getting us back.”

Pause.

“Did anybody say Francisco Cabrera?”

Jones smiled, recalling an exchange he had with Texas’s Michael Young last October.

“I talked to him via text before the World Series and I said, ‘Y’all are going to kill these guys,’” he said, referring to St. Louis.

Oops.

Official closure to the 10-20, catastrophic end of last season came Saturday with the team’s first full-squad workout. Manager Fredi Gonzalez was surprisingly secretive about his pre-practice talk. But the elements weren’t expected to include great revelations. The focus is not on the final 30 games of 2011 but the 162 in 2012. The expectation is that the Braves will pay closer to attention to offensive fundamentals: bunting, hitting behind runners, making the most of situational at-bats like what do when there’s a runner in scoring position with less than two outs (the plan: don’t hit a popup).

“I think he [Gonzalez] will pay a little more attention to detail of what guys are doing fundamentally,” Jones said before Gonzalez’s speech.

The Braves had so much go wrong at various points last season. Yet, they missed the playoffs by only one game. If Uggla starts better, McCann finishes better, Heyward or Prado have even average seasons, Jurrjens or Tommy Hanson stay health — do they not win at least one more game?

Yes, it’s a game of ifs. The emotional side of you screams: “The Braves blew it. Somebody needs to pay. Somebody other than just hitting coach Larry Parrish.”

The Boston Red Sox had a collapse that paralleled the Braves’. Seven minutes after the season, it looked like a hurricane blew through the front office. But do we know that Boston is now back on the rails?

“One year ago, we won the wild card by one game,” Prado said. “We clinched on the last day. But people don’t remember that. It’s easier to remember the bad things.”

There are obvious questions. Can Heyward, with weight loss, a new swing and a new coach, return to the form of his rookie season? Can Jurrjens, Hanson and Tim Hudson stay healthy? What will Gonzalez do this time if the team begins to circle the drain?

Gonzalez said he has felt “a good vibe” since camp opened. Pitchers and catchers reported but most of the players on the roster walked in with them.

“That gives you a good feeling,” he said. “The way we finished last year, they were itching to get going. Stop looking in the rear view mirror. It’s time to look forward.”

Their expectation is that the odds are in their favor, and a few more things go right.

By Jeff Schultz

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On Bourn’s impact, Pastornicky’s arrival, full-squad start

1:06 pm February 25, 2012, by David O'Brien

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – As he put on his uniform for the Braves’ first full-squad workout of spring training Saturday morning, Martin

Prado didn’t try to play it cool and act like it was just another day.

“Oh, man, I feel like a kid,” he said. “And I think when I’m not feeling that anymore, it’s time to quit.”

The memory of their 10-20 slide out of the wild card may linger with many outside the organization, but Braves players say they’ve moved forward and that the feeling in the clubhouse is as upbeat as its been in years.

“The page is turned,” catcher Brian McCann said as he slipped into his pulled on his cap and headed toward the field for the team. “Time to strap it on.”

(Let me take a timeout here, folks. Your Crusading Everyman would like you to know that I have strapped it on, so to speak, and subsisted for 11-13 hours per day at this Dark Star baseball facility the past week on nothing but gallons of coffee, small bags of peanuts, a few energy bars and cans of Red Bull. No other nourishment at all, as there is none available in the stadium and only overpriced mediocrity at the lone restaurant on the grounds. Oh, and I have to put out cigars upon entering. OK, carry on.)

♣ Bourn’s back: The Braves will open the season with a proven, speedy leadoff hitter for the first time since Rafael Furcal left after the 2005 season. But if you think that Michael Bourn’s presence alone is going to make that much of a difference, be careful.

If the Braves don’t get more production from key cogs in their lineup than they did for much of last season, then having baseball’s best base-stealer atop the batting order isn’t going to translate to significantly more wins.

Here’s how Chipper Jones sees it:

“He’s going to give us the ability to manufacture one run,” the third baseman said before camp opened. “Where we need to improve is the multi-run innings. We’ve got to have the guys who hit .300, hit .300. We’ve got to have the guys who hit the ball out of the ballpark, hit the ball out of the ballpark. We’ve got to have the guys who do both, do both.

“Michael Bourn can set the table and steal second, and Prado can move him over and I can drive him in with less than two outs. That’s manufacturing a run. But every once in a while you need the the big three-run homer to put the nail in the coffin, and it didn’t seem like we did a lot of that last season. We got a lot of solo home runs, which is the same thing as manufacturing one run, like what Michael Bourn provides us.”

This would be a good point for me, your blogmeister, to point out that those who use the axiom “speed never slumps” are only are half-correct. Because while speed might not slump, the hitter with the speed certainly can.

To wit, Bourn hit just .254 with a .295 OBP and seven RBIs in 30 games after Aug. 25, when the Braves went 10-20 to finish the season. He did have 14 steals in 16 attempts in that span. But also had 31 strikeouts against seven walks.

“He’s going to allow us to win a lot of 3-2 ballgames,” Chipper said. “Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be nice having him. I enjoyed the amount of easy RBI opportunities that I got when he got here [in July 31 trade from Houston], for reasons I just explained: His ability to steal bases and be on third with less than two outs.

“Where we need to get better is the multi-run inning. We need to string things together. We need to have guys that are used to hitting .280, hit .280. You know?

“And if we all do that the offense will be great.”

♣ All eyes on Pastornicky: If Tyler Pastornicky had known that most Braves position players would be reporting so early to spring training this year, I’m pretty sure he’d have scheduled his trip to Jack Wilson’s house for a week earlier.

But just so everyone knows, that the kid got here later that the rest of the projected lineup was not a big deal with anyone on the team.

When they scheduled the Feb. 18-23, neither Pastornicky nor the veteran Wilson knew so many Braves position players would be reporting at the same time as pitchers and catchers.

Or that the Braves would have their full coaching staff, along with some minor league instructors and special assistant, in uniform and ready to put the early arrivers through unofficial workouts.

Anyway, Pastornicky, 22, reported to camp Friday morning, the actual position-player reporting date, and went through a workout with the others. The first full-squad workout wasn’t till Saturday anyway.

“Not a big deal that he wasn’t here till now,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “He didn’t have to be here till [saturday].”

His later-than-the-other-starters arrival was not a concern among Braves officials, who were pleased Wilson had befriended him when

Pastornicky spent the final day of the 2011 season with the big club. Pastornicky was called up for the finale – he didn’t get in the game – because of Alex Gonzalez’s calf injury.

Coincidentally, it’s now the kid’s backup, Wilson, who now has a calf injury. The 34-year-old strained his right calf during one of the rigorous conditioning sessions with Pastornicky on Tuesday at Wilson’s home in Camarillo, Calif.

So anyway, some of you might have wondered what sort of facilities Wilson has at his home. All we had heard was he had a full, regulation infield built in his backyard.

Turns out, he’s got a lot more than that.

“Oh, yeah, he’s got quite the setup out there,” Pastornicky said. “It’s definitely a little boy’s dream out there. His son’s got it made, that’s for sure. He’s got kind of like a little league field, but he’s also got the regulation stuff for us out there. He’s got a great setup. Weight room, everything you can possibly need.”

Said Wilson: “It’s a full infield and basically I just put a fence behind it. So we do have my son’s team practices there.

“We’ve got a weight room, batting cage, everything you could possibly need.”

Wilson, a one-time All-Star and Silver Slugger with Pittsburgh, has seen his offensive numers slide in recent years but remains a slick defender. He’s also been cited as a consummate professional by teammates with the Pirates, Mariners and Braves, who got him late last season.

He spent a lot of time working with Pastornicky and techniques and showing him specific drills that could benefit him now and in the long term. Wilson also talked to him about approach, discipline, and just generally how to conduct himself as a young player.

They spent much of the days taking infield, and Wilson had friends – baseball people he knows – come over to hit them grounders and take throws at first base.

“We had a good time and got a lot of work done,” Wilson said. “It’s good to get that kind of private setting where you can really hammer at it, where I can really watch him. I told him, fielding is like your swing, it’s kind of your DNA. There’s nothing you want to change about somebody, it’s almost like you want to enhance it.

“And the things I’ve learned in my years from infield coaches, I kind of just passed them on to him. I’d tell him, there’s things I’ll tell you that might not work for you, just do whatever works for you. There were a couple of things he took on that he really liked, that we’ll continue to work on.”

Wilson worked alongside him for three-plus days last week before the veteran strained his right calf Tuesday. He said he made sure that

Pastornicky still went through their scheduled drills Wednesday, while Wilson laid on the couch with his achy leg elevated.

Pastornicky flew with Wilson, his wife Julie and their three children from California to Florida on Thursday. The kids quickly grew attached to

“Uncle Tyler” in California.

“He’s a great kid,” Wilson said. “I mean, my kids absolutely love the guy. For being a 22-year-old, not being married and being an only child in his family, he’s fantastic with kids. My son loves him, he was shooting basketball in the back with him.

“I’m really excited for his opportunity going to spring training. He’s going to have a bright future ahead of him, so I’m looking forward to see how he does this spring and gett this season started.”

Braves officials and players are saying all the right things to try to limit the pressure that Pastornicky might feel as a young lineup regular with no big-league experience.

“We want him to make all the routine plays and that’s it,” Gonzalez said. “We’re not looking for him to be in the ESPN highlights or hitting home runs. We’ve got plenty of other people that can carry the club. Just let him go out there and have fun, get his feet wet, mature and be a good major leaguer for a long time.”

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Approaching 40, Chipper isn't slowing down

Jones anticipates a healthy 2012, with an eye toward '13

columnist_barry_m_bloom.jpg By Barry M. Bloom | MLB.com Columnist | Archive 02/25/12 1:45 PM EST

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Let's get the serious stuff out of the way first.

If Chipper Jones remains healthy this season and a games-played vesting option kicks in for 2013, he'll undoubtedly play again next year.

"You can make that assumption," said the veteran Braves third baseman, seated in front of his locker just prior to the first full day of workouts at Champion Stadium on Saturday.

Does that mean, yes?

"You can make that assumption," he repeated.

A vesting option of $9 million kicks in if he plays in 123 games this season or averages 127 over the course of 2011 and '12. Jones participated in 125 games this past season. He doesn't think the 123 mark is very daunting.

Can he do that?

"Oh yeah," he said. "I played in [125] last year with knee surgery at the All-Star break. Yeah, I can do that."

Here's the reality of the situation: He'll be 40 on April 24. Two years ago, he blew out the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and had surgery. He missed 57 games.

Last year, he needed an arthroscopic procedure on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus. Back to the circular discussion about how many years and games he has left in his battered body.

"I'm going to retire. It's coming soon," Jones said.

How soon?

"I don't know," he added. "It's going to be no sooner than the end of this year, let's put it that way. I will not retire at the All-Star break. Write it down. Book it."

All this is now straight. He'll return next year if he's healthy and a vesting option kicks in. If not, he won't retire any sooner than the end of this season. Let's hold him to it. Braves fans have to feel pretty good about that.

Now on to the more frivolous topics:

Jones' arm and face were still toasty red, the result of a fishing excursion earlier in the week in the hot Florida sunshine.

"I'm paying for it," he said.

No sunscreen?

"Nah, sunscreen is for babies," he said.

And then there was the offending picture taken earlier this week, seeming to show that Chipper now has a love handle on his right side, below a gray Braves t-shirt, which was pulled down well below his shorts. An Atlanta TV station ran with it, saying that Jones had reported to camp overweight.

Jones good-naturedly snarled and scoffed. He said he hadn't personally seen the picture, even though it went viral on the Internet.

"I called my mom last night and she said, 'Yeah, it's not a very flattering picture,'" Jones said. "But what are you going to do? Trick photog."

Jones maintains he is not overweight.

"No, I'm actually about six or seven pounds lighter than I've been in about 15 years, coming into Spring Training," he said. "I tried to lose some weight and take some pressure off the knees a little bit. Lo and behold, this is the first year I've ever had to answer questions about my fatness."

It comes with age and the territory.

Back to some more seriousness. Jones experienced a relatively pain-free offseason, when he didn't have to contend with various knee issues.

Even before that, he was dealing with deteriorating power production at the plate. He hasn't hit 20 or more homers in a single season since 2008 or driven in 100 or more runs since 2007. His slugging percentage has been below .500 and his OPS has been below 1.000 since 2008.

It is clear that Jones, like most star players nearing 40, is trying to beat back a natural decline.

"I've spent so much of the last few offseasons trying to rehab a specific injury," he said. "It took away from my ability to work out so I can get myself ready for a long season. This year, I was able to get in the cage, to throw, to run, to lift without the worry of wondering whether my knee was going to hold up. I'm looking forward to better results because of that."

Finally, there was the way the 2011 regular season ended for the Braves -- on the last night of the season with a 13-inning loss to the Phillies, allowing the Cardinals to sneak away with the National League's Wild Card berth. The Braves led the Cardinals by as many as 10 games on Aug. 27, and squandered the entire lead.

"It just snowballed on us," Jones said. "There's no other way to explain it."

The Braves had long been at home in late October by the time the Cardinals went all the way to the World Series, coming from behind again to defeat the Rangers in seven thrilling games. Jones still can't believe it happened.

"Beyond a shadow of a doubt, [the Cardinals] shouldn't have been there," he said. "We should have been there. I told [Rangers infielder] Michael Young that the Rangers were going to kill them."

Jones said he didn't harbor much remorse about the collapse for very long. Ballplayers have to be able to live in a state of denial about some significant things.

"Me? I flushed it away," he said. "Not right away, but after a week. As a ballplayer you have to have some denial in your blood. The best players fail 70 percent of the time. That's a lot of failure. You have to learn to deal with losses. Denial is how you deal with it, even if it's something as traumatic as what happened in September."

Denial is a way to deal with a lot of issues. For Chipper Jones, add age, sunburn, weight and retirement to that list.

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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I have no problem with what Minor said. If Delgado or another pitcher beats him out for a starting spot. I don't see why the Braves can't trade him for a prospects. The Braves pitching depth is deep. trading one away won't hurt this team if it gets a prospect who can fill avoid next year or the year after.

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If Chipper is around in uniform next spring then that will mean he will have had a solid season this year. If that's the case then people will start talking about Chipper chasing 500 homeruns. He enters this year at 454. That leaves him 46 shy of 500. That means he will have to average 23 homeruns over the next 2 years to get there. Do I think it's possible? Sure I think it's possible. Do I think it's likely? Nope. The last time Chipper hit 23 or more homeruns in a season was when he belted 29 in 2007. His homerun production has been in steady decline since to 22 in 08, 18 in 09, 10 in 10 [when he got hurt and was on pace to only hit 15 or so homeruns] and back to 18 last year. But man would it be great to see him reach 500 homeruns but that would mean him playing in 2014 which would also mean maybe not doing it in a Braves uniform which surely wouldn't look right.

Chipper enters this season with 2,615 hits. He's 385 away from 3,000. That means he would have to average 192 hits the next 2 years to get there. That's not happening period. The most hits Chipper has ever had in a season was 189 in 2001.

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Strike Two -- The Jay Hey Kid

The most fun I've had all spring was watching Jason Heyward take batting practice in the Braves' camp the other day. He made so many baseballs disappear over the right-field fence that when he was through, Freddie Freeman just looked at him and said, "Wow."

Heyward's "wow" factor was missing in action last summer. Couldn't get healthy. Couldn't handle getting pounded inside. Couldn't even get himself on the lineup card down the stretch.

But he seems to have really connected with new hitting coach Greg Walker and assistant hitting coach Scott Fletcher. And Heyward's teammates are buzzing about how good he's looked since getting his retooled stroke dialed in under the new regime.

"That's what we've been shooting for since Jan. 1," said Chipper Jones, after Heyward's monster BP round. "When he came in [to start his offseason hitting] on Jan. 1, it was an event. And in a month and a half, he's gone from flat-out ugly to flat-out dangerous. It's good to see that 2010 Jay Hey back again. He's the pivot man. He's the swing man in our lineup. If he's that 30-home run, .280-.300 guy, our offense is going to take off."

You don't need to be a descendant of Hank Aaron to know Heyward needed to make some significant changes, because the league has clearly adjusted to him. Check out his first two months in the big leagues in 2010 -- and how he's fared since:

AVG OBP SLG OPS HR ratio First two months .292 .410 .578 .988 1 every 16.1 AB Since .248 .351 .395 .746 1 every 34.3 AB

As reminiscent as his BP session this week was of the shows he put on in Florida back in the day in 2010, it doesn't tell us how Heyward is going to deal with the heat on the inner half which swallowed him alive last season. On hard stuff in, he hit .169 and slugged .237 in 2011.

That's a gigantic change from the first half of his rookie year, when he hit .268 and slugged .518 versus the same pitches in that same zone.

Then again, as ESPN Stats & Info guru Mark Simon detailed this month, Heyward scuffled against just about any kind of pitching on the inner half last year. And that's something he's got to fix if he's ever going to make an impact in the big leagues.

"There are so many intangibles to sort out with this guy aside from health," said one scout. "Is he willing to get closer to the plate? Is he willing to make adjustments to his swing? Let's assume he'll be healthy, and that's a big 'if.' Is he willing to make the necessary changes to get back where he was in the first half of his rookie year -- because his first half was much different than his second half?"

So far, the Braves see a hitter who has made those changes. Now it's time to see if they lead to the kind of results that will bear out the Braves' decision not to go out and add a big bopper last winter, because they still believed Jason Heyward could be That Guy.

"We're not asking him to go out and win a triple crown," said his manager, Fredi Gonzalez. "We're just asking him to be the Jason Heyward we know he can be."

http://espn.go.com/mlb/blog/_/name/stark_jayson

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Liberty pins Braves' $6 million loss on Lowe trade

By Tim Tucker

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Braves are chalking up one more loss to pitcher Derek Lowe.

Team owner Liberty Media, in a financial report filed this week, said the Braves finished $6 million in the red last year — a loss the company attributed to the October trade of Lowe, a 17-game loser last season, to Cleveland.

The Braves sent $10 million to the Indians in the trade, an expenditure that counted against the Braves’ 2011 financial results even though Cleveland will use the money toward Lowe’s 2012 salary.

“This one transaction had the impact of swinging [the Braves’] adjusted OIBDA from earnings to a loss,” Liberty stated in its annual report.

OIBDA stands for “operating income before depreciation and amortization.” Adjusted OIBDA also excludes certain one-time charges, and Liberty says it is “an important indicator of the operational strength and performance of our businesses.”

Liberty’s filing disclosed that the Braves had revenue of $208 million last year, up 2.5 percent from $203 million in 2010. The Braves posted revenue of $206 million in 2009.

Liberty reported the Braves’ adjusted OIBDA in the black for 2009 and 2010 — profits of $8 million and $6 million, respectively. If not for the

Lowe trade, the 2011 results would have shown a profit of $4 million.

However, Liberty noted that the trade “will free up additional salary in 2012 to be utilized in the acquisition of additional player talent.”

Since Lowe’s contract calls for a $15 million salary this year, the Braves gained $5 million in payroll flexibility by trading the 15-year veteran for a minor-league pitcher. Lowe was 9-17 with a 5.05 ERA for the Braves last season.

The Braves have made no major acquisitions since the end of last season. Terry McGuirk, the Braves’ chairman and CEO, recently said the team has set a player payroll budget of $94 million, leaving about $4 million still to spend on acquisitions before or during the season.

The $94 million includes the $10 million that went to the Indians toward Lowe’s salary. While Liberty officially accounted for it as a 2011 expense, the Braves unofficially are viewing it as a part of their 2012 payroll. So in terms of players actually on the team, the Braves effectively will have an $84 million payroll budget.

Liberty avoided using Lowe’s name in the financial disclosures regarding the Braves, referring to him as “one of their pitchers,” but provided details of the trade that left no doubt who the company was referring to.

Liberty offered no insight into how long the Colorado-based conglomerate intends to own the team, which it acquired from Time Warner in 2007 as part of a larger transaction driven by tax benefits.

In a conference call that Liberty executives held with investment analysts Thursday, the Braves were mentioned once. That was in the context of a discussion about taxes.

Liberty CEO Greg Maffei cited the Braves and a stake in satellite radio company Sirius XM as examples of situations where Liberty would owe capital-gains taxes if the assets were sold. But Maffei offered no signal of an impending sale, saying, “We will be able to decide when to choose, if ever, to [trigger the capital-gains taxes].”

Maffei’s comment does signal that Liberty believes the Braves have increased in value since 2007.

Liberty, chaired by John Malone, has a wide range of holdings in the media, communications and entertainment businesses.

The Braves are a tiny piece of the conglomerate. Liberty Media, which includes premium cable network Starz, reported overall revenue of $3 billion last year and adjusted operating income before depreciation and amortization of $1.1 billion, while corporate sibling Liberty Interactive, which includes shopping network QVC, reported $9.6 billion in revenue and $1.8 billion in OIBDA.

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I'm so bored I decided I'll post the list of players the Braves have in camp this spring.

40-MAN ROSTER

Jairo Asencio - P - 56 [RHP]

Luis Avilan - P - 65 [LHP]

Brandon Beachy - P - 37 [RHP]

Jaye Chapman - P - 64 [RHP]

Erik Cordier - P - 63 [RHP]

Randall Delgado - P - 40 [RHP]

Robert Fish - P - 52 [LHP]

Cory Gearrin - P - 53 [RHP]

Tommy Hanson - P - 48 [RHP]

J.J. Hoover - P - 66 [RHP]

Tim Hudson - P - 15 [RHP]

Jair Jurrjens - P - 49 [RHP]

Craig Kimbrel - P - 46 [RHP]

Cristhian Martinez - P - 50 [RHP]

Kris Medlen - P - 54 [RHP]

Mike Minor - P - 36 [LHP]

Eric O'Flaherty - P - 34 [LHP]

Todd Redmond - P - 62 [RHP]

Julio Teheran - P - 27 [RHP]

Anthony Varvaro - P - 38 [RHP]

Jonny Venters - P - 39 [LHP]

Arodys Vizcaino - P - 59 [RHP]

Brian McCann - C - 16

David Ross - C - 8

Freddie Freeman - 1B - 5

Brandon Hicks - SS - 19

Chipper Jones - 3B - 10

Tyler Pasternicky - SS - 1

Dan Uggla - 2B - 26

Jack Wilson - SS - 2

Michael Bourn - CF - 24

Jose Constanza - CF - 17

Matt Diaz - RF - 23

Jason Heyward - RF - 22

Eric Hinske - LF - 20

Martin Prado - LF - 14

NON-ROSTER INVITEES

Yohan Flande - P - 80 [LHP

Sean Gilmartin - P - 77 [LHP]

Dusty Hughes - P - 70 [LHP]

Jason Rice - P - 74 [RHP]

Adam Russell - P - 72 [RHP]

Zeke Spruill - P - 81 [RHP]

Christian Betancourt - C - 68

J.C. Boscan - C - 7

Evan Gattis - C - 69

Mathew Kennelly - C - 76

Jose Yepez - C - 75

Ernesto Mejia - 1B - 71

Andrelton Simmons - SS - 67

Drew Sutton - 2B - 4

Joe Terdoslavich - 3B - 73

Josh Wilson - SS - 11

Todd Cunningham - OF - 79

Luis Durango - OF - 30

Stefan Gartrell - OF - 78

Jordan Parraz - OF - 58

This list was taken from Braves.com and didn't list Peter Moylan who re-signed with the Braves on a minor-league deal and is still recovering from shoulder surgery. By my count that's 54 players that the Braves have in camp this year with only 3 or 4 spots up for grabs.

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That 2nd picture looks really funny to me. I guess because it's taken from behind but Justice looks like he's about 100 years old to me. And in that bottom picture Crime Dog is still in great shape! He looks like he could still play!

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Yep. And I cannot believe the amount of hate that Tommy Hanson has generated on Braves.com and on AJC.com. I just don't know what Hanson has ever done to generate such hateful comments. At least DI keeps it civil with his criticism of Hanson.

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Freeman hurt his knee today during drills. Expected to miss 1-2 weeks.

Dang it! We just can't seem to escape the injury bug. First Hanson and now Freeman. Disgusting!

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Freeman may miss two weeks with achy knee

By Mark Bowman / MLB.com | 02/28/12 1:50 PM EST

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman might be sidelined over the next two weeks as he rests a right knee injury that he suffered during Tuesday morning's workout at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex.

Freeman's right knee popped out of place as he was attempting to pick a low throw out of the dirt. The 22-year-old first baseman limped off the field immediately and was still struggling to walk as he made his way to a photo shoot early Tuesday afternoon.

"I was just doing pick drills and the knee gave out," Freeman said. "The kneecap went this way and I came back in. When I did this when I was playing in Triple-A, it took me two weeks. So that is what we are going on."

While he was in obvious discomfort, Freeman did not seem worried about the possibility that he will need more than just a couple weeks of rest. His right knee had not given him any problems since he had suffered a similar injury while playing for Gwinnett in 2010.

"When I did it in 2010, I thought I could come back after a week," Freeman said. "But they're obviously going to be cautious with me."

If Freeman misses two weeks, he could return in time to play the final two weeks of the exhibition season. His absence will likely provide Eric Hinske and Ernesto Mejia a chance to get plenty of playing time at first base during the Grapefruit League season's first two weeks.

Freeman is coming off a memorable rookie season during which he hit .282 with 21 home runs and a .448 slugging percentage.

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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Freeman has a partial dislocation and we'll be examined further tomorrow

Hanson is expected to throw from the mound for the first time Thursday

Fredi is meeting with McDowell today or tomorrow and will set a pitching lineup for the game Saturday

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Not Brave's related, but still Spring Training related and I thought it was pretty cool. I mentioned on here a while back that the son of my wife's boss had been drafted by Washington as a pitcher. Well he got an invite to ST (I'm sure as just a warm body this year), but he's been assigned to pitch to Ivan Rodriguez while in camp. Hope the kid takes anything Pudge has to say to heart and runs with it.

Still trying to figure it out since Pudge is a FA. I'm guessing Pudge received an invite as well?

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