While the Braves’ pitching looks terrific, one scout worries about their defense. That scout also said rookie Freddie Freeman “doesn’t look great” at first base. Freeman’s rep is that he is smooth with great hands but alltime slow (almost to the degree of Bengie Molina).
Today was Fan Appreciation Day. All season tickets holders are invited to a special event prior to the game that includes free food (hamburgers, hot dogs, etc.), give-a-ways (autographed items and an autographed jersey), signing sessions by some players and a State-of-the-Braves address from Frank Wren. Our good friends Mike and Janeice always join my wife Jackie and me for this day. This is Jackie’s one baseball game of the year. Unfortunately, no baseball fan she. Sigh. We didn’t win any prizes this year. Mike won the autographed jersey back in 1999. Nice. Did get two balls autographed by Martin Prado and Jason Heyward.
Frank spoke to the crowd and said that he thought that this team is better than last year’s team and can complete with anybody. He said the games must be played on the field and not on paper. If it was only on paper, then they would be printing World Series tickets in Philadelphia right now. That got a big cheer from the crowd. He thought Kimbrel has the inside track for the closer’s job, but that they wouldn’t make a final decision until the last week of spring training. He’s really happy with the physical condition of the team. He stated that he thought some 20 guys came into camp in top physical condition. I asked him about the status of the World Baseball Classic for next year. He stated that he didn’t have any details but that they would probably be firmed up in the fall. Tim Editorial Comment: Cancel it! Takes players away from spring training and only gives them an opportunity to get hurt.
Oh yeah, we did play a game today. DLowe pitched well today: 3 earned runs, 7 hits, 5 Ks, 1 BB on 95 pitches (62 strikes, 33 balls) in 5 1/3 innings. He had some tough luck on the 3 runs. It looked like he had Hall struck out in the 4th but the ump didn’t call it. He walked instead. A fly out and a strike out followed so the inning should have been over, but no. The next guy gets a single to drive in a run. In the 6th with two outs and runners at 1st and 2nd, he got Johnson to pop up behind the plate but Brian couldn’t catch the ball right at the fence – it was a very, very tough chance. And, of course, he then hit a double on the next pitch to drive in two runs. Fudge! All the other pitchers pitched great: Moylan, Sherrill, O’Flaherty and Redmond. Huh? Redmond? This is one of the quirks of spring training. Bottom of the 9th, we’re holding on to a two run lead and in comes this guy with number 98. He’s so new his name isn’t even on the back of his jersey. We’re all asking, who is this kid? So we’re all griping about some unknown at a critical part of the game, but this kid is probably pitching the most important inning in his young life. He did well – one fly out and 2 Ks.
For the offense, another great day for Chipper: 3 for 3. My friend Bob from Minnesota, who sits directly behind me, and I both agree that this is the best spring training that we’ve ever seen from Chipper. And we’ve been to a lot. Bob goes all the way back to West Palm. Nate McLouth was leading off and only got one hit but was on base three times (hit, error, BB.) And that’s what you want from your leadoff guy. Clutch hit from BMac in the 5th to drive in two runs and put us in the lead, at least for the time being. The subs (Boscan, Lucas, Ramirez) came through in the 7th to win the game for the Bravos: 5-3.
Over all a good game. No real negatives to speak of. Would like to see Uggla get his first HR of the spring soon. Next game is against the Fish on Wednesday. I’m sure Fredi and Dan are looking forward to meeting their old team. Perfect time for Dan to unload a long one.