Atlanta Braves blog by David O'Brien, baseball writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Braves trim candidate list for few remaining roster spots

6:54 pm Mar. 20, 2014

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

Hale, Braves relievers issue 10 walks vs. Yankees

6:18 pm Mar. 19, 2014

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Braves pitcher David Hale has a business degree from Princeton and takes an analytical approach to preparing for and pitching in games. But it didn’t take an Ivy Leaguer to figure out the problem in his performance Wednesday.

The rookie from Marietta was charged with five hits, three runs and three walks with two strikeouts in 4-1/3 innings of a 7-0 Grapefruit League loss to the

Ervin Santana makes Braves debut Thursday

3:41 pm Mar. 19, 2014

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Eight days after signing Ervin Santana, the Braves will start him against the Mets on Thursday in his spring debut, and Braves fans can  watch the 1:05 p.m. game live on MLB Network.

The Braves signed the the former All-Star to a one-year, $14.1 million free-agent contract after elbow injuries last week to Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy. Medlen had season-ending Tommy John surgery Tuesday, and

Hale, Terdoslavich impress in Braves win

5:40 pm Mar. 14, 2014

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Braves plan to have David Hale in their injury-depleted starting rotation to begin the season, and the rookie from Marietta pitched Friday like he’s ready despite having only two major league games under his belt.

Hale was charged with three hits, one run and one walk with three strikeouts in four innings of a 6-1 Grapefruit League win against Tampa Bay, and his line could

Rough day for Braves bullpen candidate Gearrin

5:35 pm Mar. 13, 2014

JUPITER, Fla. — It was a rough afternoon for Braves relief candidate Cory Gearrin, who was charged with five hits and six runs (five earned) while recording just one out in the seven-run sixth inning of Thursday’s 11-0 loss to the Cardinals.

He gave up a one-out single before first baseman Ernesto Mejia made an errant throw to second base on a fielder’s choice. Gearrin gave up hits to the next

Freeman, Gattis homer in Braves’ split-squad wins

4:52 pm Mar. 12, 2014

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – It’s only spring training and their Grapefruit League record will be forgotten once the Braves pack up and leave Florida. But given their rough start and recent pitching injuries, stringing together some wins and solid perfermances has been good for morale.

Freddie Freeman and Evan Gattis each homered to lead the Braves in a pair of split-squad wins Wednesday against the Nationals at Champion Stadium and

Braves’ Uggla homers again; Heyward is sizzling

5:50 pm Mar. 11, 2014

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. —  Braves second baseman Dan Uggla didn’t care about spring training results for most of his career, he said, because he could always count on hitting about 30 homers and driving in 90-plus runs during the season regardless.

But after struggling mightily for two seasons, he wanted to have a good spring this year and take some momentum into the season.

The past two days have been just

HoRamirez hired as coaching asst.; Braves trade for Stewart

6:40 pm Mar. 10, 2014

CLEARWATER, Fla. –– Former Braves pitcher Horacio Ramirez has been hired as a coaching assistant in a new position created in response to the expanded new replay system being introduced in the majors this season. During games, he will watch games on monitors in the clubhouse and call the dugout to let Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez know when he should challenge a reviewable umpiring decision.

By hiring Ramirez for the position,

J-Hey on a roll, J-Up joins the fun

6:24 pm Mar. 8, 2014

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – With three more hits Saturday, Braves right fielder Jason Heyward has hits in five consecutive plate appearances and six of his past seven. That included a home run Friday against the Red Sox, the second of the spring for the majors’ largest leadoff man.

“Timing’s been good,” Heyward said of his recent success at the plate, which has raised his average to .348 (8-for-23) and his