The Atlanta Braves held a controlled scrimmage for the second consecutive day at Truist Park with Mike Foltynewicz turning in an impressive performance. Folty allowed just one baserunner, a walk to Charlie Culberson, in a three-inning performance.
“I got to the field today, and there were some butterflies in my stomach,” Foltynewicz said, “But it wasn’t near as crazy as it might be Opening Day or a game in September.”
Foltynewicz and others, including Mike Soroka and Sean Newcomb, were throwing almost six times a week during the shutdown and he believes that has him close to ready for the regular season. Folty added that he expects to make two more appearances in game like situations before the season begins.
Sean Newcomb got the start for the other team and allowed a pair of home runs to catchers William Contreras and Travis d’Arnaud. Despite the homers, Brian Snitker said that he was pleased with the outing and pointed out an improved breaking ball and several good change-ups.
Charlie Culberson also homered off of reliever Grant Dayton. Culberson appeared to be on the roster bubble before spring training was shut down but he appears to be strengthening his bid for a spot on the 30-man roster for Opening Day.
Snitker impressed with catchers
Both d’Arnaud and Contreras homered in Thursday’s scrimmage and drew praise from Snitker.
“The whole package is really good,” Snitker said of d’Arnaud. “He’s taken a vested interest in the pitching staff. I like everything about what he’s going to bring to us and the kind of player he is.”
Contreras struggled a bit in 2019 and needed a good 2020 season. He and Alex Jackson seem to be in competition for the catcher spot on the taxi squad.
“This kid, his body looks better,” Snitker said. “I think he used this time off, obviously, to his benefit. He’s a young man that’s maturing. He looks great physically. This is going to be a great experience for him. So it’s really good to watch what he’s done.”
A.J. Minter rounding back into form
A.J. Minter’s 2019 season unraveled early with a shoulder injury that he suffered in a fender bender during spring training. He was rushed into action and never looked right throughout the season. Perhaps the time off has served him well as he was impressive in Thursday’s scrimmage.
“Today, I saw something like it was in 2017, when he was our closer,” Snitker said. “The big thing with him is he’s healthy again, too. He felt good in spring training, but we weren’t going to bring him with us because we wanted to make sure he got back. Right now, I like where he’s at.”
The Braves spent big on their bullpen at the trade deadline last season and again this offseason. Getting Minter back to his 2017 form would make it even deeper and would give them another left-handed pitcher that is capable of pitching in high-leverage situations.
Cole Hamels update
Snitker said that Hamels is still just throwing on the side for now and gave no indication for when he might be ready for live BP. The longer that is the case, then more doubt there is that Hamels will be ready for Opening Day. Hamels said last week that he thought he would need about three game-like outings of about 60 pitches to be good to go. Still, time is ticking away and it doesn’t appear that the Braves are still intent on playing it safe with the veteran.