The Atlanta Braves held their first workouts for pitchers and catchers Thursday morning at their North Port complex. Manager Brian Snitker has been in Florida for several weeks now in preparation for the upcoming spring. He met with the media Thursday and appeared to be energized and excited for the start of camp.
“It was a great workout, this morning. Guys seem to be at ease,” Snitker said on the players arrival. “We had to change reporting times that they are not used to in Spring Training. They all did great, they did what we asked them and it was all pretty good.”
Mike Soroka’s health and the rotation
One of the first questions Snitker received was on the status of Mike Soroka. While Snitker wasn’t ready to commit to any timetable, he didn’t dismiss the possibility of Soroka being ready for Opening Day.
“I feel good about Mike,” Snitker said. I have been at the ballpark the last month and watching him do his workouts. He threw a side today and looked really good. I feel really good about where he is at.”
“We have five weeks to determine that,” Snitker added when asked about the possibility of Soroka being ready for Opening Day. “I don’t think it would be fair to him or us to say he is not going to be in the rotation or is going to be delayed. I don’t think we are going to push or rush. We are going to see how this thing transpires.”
Snitker was also asked about how the team would handle the increased workload for the pitching staff. Snitker said they probably wouldn’t use a strict six-man rotation, but that they have always looked to get guys extra days off when they can and when it made sense. That will be even more important this season. Snitker added that he is excited about the rotation, but thinks they will need all of their young guys at some point to get through the season.
Bullpen status and closer situation
Snitker also discussed his current bullpen situation and said that he feels like he has at least four players there that could close if needed.
“We have got a lot of good options there. We have a bunch of guys that have done that before,” Snitker said. I feel really good about where we are. We’ve brought in some guys that have had success at the major league level.”
Snitker was noncommittal about who might be in line to close games after the departure of Mark Melancon to San Diego. He said that he might use 2 or 3 different guys to close. He also added that he had “all the confidence in the world” that Will Smith could close if needed.
Snitker hasn’t decided where Freddie Freeman will slot into the lineup
With the DH in place in 2020, Snitker inserted Freeman into the second spot in the lineup and Atlanta’s offense took off. Snitker is still formulating his lineup plans for the season and said that he would speak to Freeman about the situation. He did say that with pitchers hitting and no DH, that it changes things. So a shift back to the third spot doesn’t seem to be out of the question.