It has been three weeks since the start of spring training, and the Braves today made their first round of cuts. There were no real surprises, but it does clear the decks a bit as the expected big league players start to stretch themselves more as we close in on the start of the regular season.
LHP Jesse Biddle was optioned to AA Mississippi. Biddle had only appeared in one spring training game to date, and no doubt the Braves will heavily monitor his use coming off missing the entire 2016 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.
RHP Jason Hursh was optioned to AAA Gwinnett, the level where he has pitched most of the last two seasons. The former 1st-round draft pick had allowed 4 earned runs in 3 innings of work in two appearances this spring.
LHP Adam Kolarek was reassigned to minor league camp, and may be the biggest surprise of this group. Kolarek had not allowed a run in his three spring appearances. This move indicates that the Braves are comfortable with the more established left-handed options still in camp, which include Paco Rodriguez, Eric O’Flaherty, and Ian Krol.
LHP Sam Freeman on the other hand pitched his way out of contention, allowing 6 earned runs and only securing 3 outs over two appearances. The journeyman will likely attempt to rebuild value in Gwinnett.
RHP Rhiner Cruz was always a long-shot having not pitched in the US since 2013 and signing a minor league deal this offseason out of the Mexican Leagues. Cruz did have good results in the small sample size of spring training, allowing only a hit and a walk in three innings of work. Cruz showed a mid-90’s fastball with good movement, but with the Braves bullpen mostly set it was nearly impossible for him to make the squad out of spring training.
RHP Daniel Winkler and LHP Jacob Lindgren were placed on the 60-day disabled lists. Winkler is still rehabbing after fracturing his right elbow while throwing a pitch for Atlanta in April of last season. Lindgren is expected to miss all of 2017 after undergoing Tommy John surgery in August.
C Joe Odom and C Kade Scivicque were reassigned to minor league camp and will likely be the primary catching tandem in AA Mississippi. Odom and Scivicque were non-roster invitees because a team needs a ton of catchers in camp. Scivicque did get into three games and recorded a hit. Odom did not get into a game and has not been listed on line-up cards as an extra, so he may be a little banged up.
OF Dustin Peterson was reassigned and will be out the next seven weeks or so as he recovers from a broken hamate bone in his left hand. Peterson got off to a hot start this spring, but will likely start the season on Gwinnett’s disabled list.
In The Trainer’s Room
This morning it was reported that shortstop Dansby Swanson has been held out of games recently due to experiencing back soreness. Swanson believes the problem isn’t serious, and should clear up with rest. “One of those things where, second week of March, no sense in pushing it past what we need to at this point,” Swanson said per AJC beat writer Dave O’Brien.
Left-handed reliever A.J. Minter was expecting to finally get some game action this week, but that plan changed after he experienced continued discomfort, according to MLB.com’s Mark Bowman. Minter has been slowed by an inflamed nerve in his forearm.
UPDATE: After today’s 3-2 spring training victory over the Phillies, Braves manager Brian Snitker announced that second base prospect Ozzie Albies has been cleared for game action and will be in the line-up for tomorrow’s game against the Yankees.