Pitchers and catchers reported to Braves camp on Wednesday, starting the long stretch of meaningless stretching and exhibitions that will occur over the next six weeks. The snow in metro Atlanta over the weekend hardly signaled the start of a new baseball season for Braves fans, but seeing baseball players wearing baseball uniforms on a baseball field hopefully helped to bridge that gap.
Unfortunately the opening day of camp was overshadowed by injury news involving newly-acquired starter Cole Hamels, who reportedly hurt his left shoulder while exercising with a medicine ball. Indications are that Hamels will be shut down for three weeks as the Braves look to ease him back into a throwing program. This is obviously not great news given that Hamels was being relied upon to fill a spot in the rotation and will be paid handsomely for his services, even if just for one season.
The Braves bet fairly heavily on Hamels this season, and will certainly hope to have him on the mound as soon as possible. However, the season is six months long and does not begin for another six weeks. Even with a setback, Hamels could conceivably be at full strength by mid-April, which would leave him with nearly 30 starts over the remainder of the season. Fans were quick to dismiss Hamels on Twitter after the news broke that he had injured his shoulder, but day one of team activities is hardly a time to panic. The Braves will have plenty of time to extract value from Cole Hamels this season, but right now they need to get him to full strength. After all, Hamels was signed to help push this team over the hump in October, not April.
The Braves placed six players among the top 120 prospects for Fangraphs, with Cristian Pache earning the highest mark at 20th overall.
Kris continues his rundown of the position groups in Atlanta, this time checking in on the bullpen. The addition of Will Smith should be a boon for this group, which looks much more stable this year compared to 2019.
Old friend Josh Tomlin will rejoin the Braves in 2020 in hopes of earning a spot in the bullpen, much like he did a year ago.
The first day of camp brought multiple newsworthy items, but this was easily the most fun. Can Ronald Acuña really challenge for a 50-50 season?
Checking in with seven questions ahead of Spring Training.
1/3 of the league hired a new manager this offseason. 1/30 of the league hired two new managers this offseason. Never change, Mets.
What rules will change for the upcoming season?