Posted: 6:54 pm Thursday, March 20th, 2014

Braves trim candidate list for few remaining roster spots 

By David O'Brien

 

PORT ST. LUCIE – Sidearmer Luis Vasquez and catching prospect Christian Bethancourt were among five players trimmed from the Braves spring-training roster Thursday in the latest round of roster cuts, as the field narrowed for the remaining bullpen and bench jobs.

They optioned relievers Vasquez and Juan Jaime, Bethancourt, and outfielder Todd Cunningham to Triple-A Gwinnett, and optioned shortstop Elmer Reyes to Double-A Mississippi.

Vasquez was a strong candidate for a bullpen spot after the Braves signed him as a free agent during his impressive winter season in the Dominican Republic. But he got off to a late start because of lat-muscle injury sustained in his final winter-ball playoff appearance, and his fastball velocity was down a few miles per hour.

The sidearmer allowed just two hits in 3-2/3 innings over four appearances, but had six walks with two strikeouts, including two walks and two runs (one earned) in the seventh inning Wednesday against the Yankees.

“His arm strength’s still not back to where we saw in the Dominican,” Wren said. “In the Dominican we were seeing him consistently more in that 94 (mph) range, and we haven’t seen that here. Having that tear in the lat muscle and being out for six weeks, I think it impacted him and set him back. Then he just looked to me like he was trying to play catch up on the mound all the time, not what he was doing in the Dominican. So for him to go down (to Gwinnett) and just get settled in and show us what he showed in the Dominican, that’s really all we’re going to be looking for.”

The Braves are expected to carry eight relievers for the first nine to 11 games, until they activate starter Ervin Santana. Five spots seem assured for Craig Kimbrel, Jordan Walden, left-hander Luis Avilan, David Carpenter and Anthony Varvaro, and sidearmer Cory Gearrin is out of minor-league options and appears likely for the opening-day ‘pen. That would leave two opening-day bullpen jobs and four candidates: lefties Ian Thomas, Ryan Buchter and Atahualpo Severino, and sidearmer Gus Schlosser.

With spring training entering its final week and decision time looming, manager Fredi Gonzalez used all three of those lefty candidates in Thursday’s game against the Mets.

“We brought in some of the left-handers, just to face some left-handed (hitters) in there, and they did a nice job,” Gonzalez said. “Thomas got two left-handers out. Buchter came in and got a left-hander out. Severino unfortunately didn’t face any left-handers, but he still got the right-handers out, in a situation where the game was on the line in the eighth inning.”

Braves general manager Frank Wren continues to consider or pursue possible trades, indicating if they do anything else for now it would likely be a smaller deal. But he also said they believe there’s enough depth to get through this spate of pitching injuries.

When Mike Minor and Gavin Floyd join the rotation – likely late April and early May, respectively — they would displace two others who could potentially be moved to the bullpen to strengthen that unit.

“I think we’ll be fine,” Wren said. “And it’s one of those things that as we go into April and start getting guys healthy and start being able to add that (to the bullpen) from our starting depth, then that could also give us more overall depth to form our team maybe a little differently as we go forward. We feel like there’s enough internal candidates, but we’re always going to look outside, too. If there’s guys that improve us, even if it’s small improvements you’re looking to do that.”

One bench job: Infielder Tyler Pastornicky could make his Grapefruit League debut Friday and still might have enough time to be considered for the lone remaining bench job on the Braves opening-day roster. Pastornicky, coming off September knee surgery for a torn ACL, played in three minor league games this week and is tentatively scheduled to play in the major league split-squad game Friday against the Orioles in his hometown of Sarasota, Fla.

Other candidates for the last bench job include first baseman/left fielder Joey Terdoslavich, former Cardinals utility player Tyler Greene, and possibly speedy outfielder Jose Constanza.

The Braves have versatile Ramiro Pena as their top utility player and don’t necessarily have to keep a second backup infielder capable of playing shortstop and second base. There would be only slight risk involved in having Pena as their only backup middle infielder – if they had an injury they could bring up another infielder – Reyes or Pastornicky, for example — before the next day’s game.

 

20 comments
TideDawg
TideDawg

Constanza is a "slap" hitter with speed. Doesn't exactly fit the profile for the Braves roster. He and Mejia need to move on to a different organization where they can help someone else. There must be something about Mejia we don't know.

TideDawg
TideDawg

Haven't noticed Uggla in the lineup lately. What??

ChessMaster
ChessMaster

Terdo's issue is he is the number 5 outfielder, number 3 1st baseman, and number 3 3rd baseman. He is willing to do anything to help the team win but it appears the job is pinch hitting. That means very few chances to show your worth over the course of a season, and each is under pressure. I think he makes the opening day roster but I'm not sure that's best for his development.

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

Please keep Terdo on the roster, perfect bench player and a real hustler.. I like the kid.

ATL25
ATL25

any idea where LaStella will start this year?

MichBravesFan
MichBravesFan

I don't understand why Meija is never given a chance of making the big league club. He seems to be doing really well and appears to have some power. Why is he designated as a career AAA player? He'd be a good backup 1b. 

MikeY1959
MikeY1959

The 40-man roster may dictate some of these moves. The Braves currently have 40 players on the 40-man. They will free up 2 slots when Medlen and Beachy are put on the 60-day DL. Garcia will use one of those slots. That leaves one.

Greene, Thomas, Severino, and Schlosser are NOT on the 40-man roster. So, barring another injury or dropping another player from the 40-man, only one of these guys can make the team. Pastornicky, Terdo, Constanza, and Buchter are already on the 40-man.

And they sill could may a late trade or waiver claim.

And I have a question: What do they do with Santana for those first 10 days of the season? He must be out of options. Can they DL him? What reason? How do they stash him off the 25-man roster?

1995oneyearwonder
1995oneyearwonder

they couldn't sign either Downs or O Flaherty and now they may trade for a bullpen guy ? 


Severino had a horrible outing the prior time, but I guess they allow a few blips.  Thomas has been the best of the lefties based on stats.


they have 8th and 9th inning guys so they need middle relievers who aren't as hard to find.


ilovetexas
ilovetexas

You gotta keep someone named Atahualpo Severino! 

ERM016
ERM016

@TideDawg  I like him, wish there was more of a fit for him. He always hustles, and always seemed to make things happen w/ his legs when he had the chance.

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

@MichBravesFan This guy is all power and no real major league hitting ability yet.  Saw him swinging for the fence with 2 strikes when he should have been shortening up to move a guy over from first base.  MLB announcer said 'never gonna make the big leagues if you cant move guys over and hit fundamentally sound' or something along those lines.


If Freddie wasn't here he might make it up to compete with a journeyman but for now he's stuck at AAA

RBI
RBI

@MichBravesFan Meijia is what is known as a 4A player --- better than a AAA player, but not quite able to make the leap to the Majors.  He rakes AAA pitching, but has trouble hitting Major-League "stuff".  His best position is in the batter's box, but with no DH in the NL, it is hard to find a spot for him on the roster.  Perhaps he can be used in Inter-league games...

FBall
FBall

@MichBravesFan because the Braves already have several backup 1B on the roster in Johnson, Gattis, and Doumit.  Not to mention that if Terdo makes the club, he can play there too.  Meija is fine, but he can't play anywhere but 1B while all those other guys play other spots too.....and last time I checked, the NL doesn't use the DH so no need to have him up unless (heaven forbid) Freeman got hurt.

Retired-Soldier
Retired-Soldier

@MichBravesFan I agree! The Braves owe this guy, put him on the roster or trade him to someone that will give him a shot at the major league level. What else does Meija have to prove?

RBI
RBI

@MikeY1959 Nice post.  Thanks for the 411.


Regarding Santana, they can't DL him because he has been pitching in Spring games.  It will interesting to see how they account for him.

MikeY1959
MikeY1959

They also MIGHT be able to put Gavin Floyd on the 60-day DL and back-date it. That could free up a 40-man spot for a while.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@ilovetexas He looked good yesterday!


Yeah! I love Texas too! Spent a few years there and would have stayed but too far from family. Too bad everyone doesn't adopt their ideas on law and order, crime and punishment.