Braves: Minor Injuries Pop Up, But Nothing To Fear

Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman practices his sliding technique using the new sliding matts on the team’s agility field during spring training on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, in North Port, Fla. (Curtis Compton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

NORTH PORT, FL – Braves fans hearts skipped a beat on Tuesday morning as the team scratched him from the starting lineup against the Twins at CoolToday Park. Freeman, who was in obvious pain last season dealing with bone spurs in his elbow, had surgery four days after the Braves were eliminated by St Louis to remove the spurs and remove a hook that had developed over the years. But anytime an injury, no matter how minor it is, happens to the Face of the Franchise, fans will understandably push the panic button.

“He’s doing more now on a consistent basis than he did prior” Braves manager Brian Snitker said on Tuesday morning. “I don’t know that it’s anything to be alarmed about. I’m glad it happened in February instead of the end of March” Snitker added. The overall consensus around camp is that it’s a very minor issue that with a few days rest will clear up and allow Freeman to return to the lineup by the end of the week. Fortunately, Freddie is the kind of guy that only needs 30 to 40 at bats during Grapefruit League games, and with Opening Day still over a month away, he’ll have ample opportunities to get more than enough at bats between now and then.

Speaking of injuries, Mike Soroka (groin) got through Monday’s live BP session feeling great and was moving around with no limitations on Tuesday as the pitchers took part in routine infield drills. He’s still on target to make his 2020 Grapefruit League debut later this week, likely on Friday or Saturday. As for the next few days, we’ll see Mike Foltynewicz today against the Twins, Sean Newcomb tomorrow in Sarasota against the Orioles and Felix Hernandez on Thursday back here in North Port make his second Spring start against St Louis.

Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet.

Braves Storylines To Follow As Opening Day Closes In

680 THE FAN – NORTH PORT, FL – As we inch closer to the start of Grapefruit League games on Saturday, I thought it’d be fun to give the fans a little cheat sheet on the storylines to follow with Opening Day now just five weeks away…

FILE – Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Mike Soroka will most likely be a part of the Braves starting rotation. (AP File Photo/Kathy Willens)

Starting Rotation: Barring an injury, we know that Mike Soroka, Max Fried and Mike Foltynewicz will be the top three in the Atlanta rotation. But, where does the club go from there? Unlike in years past, where a handful of off days were sprinkled in over the first few weeks, the Braves don’t have that luxury here in 2020. As a matter of fact, there’s just one scheduled day off for the team in the span of its first 24 games. This means that, unlike most seasons, a fifth starter will be necessary right out of the gates. Up until a few weeks ago, the Braves were looking at Sean Newcomb to round out the staff as the number five. But now with Cole Hamels injury, Newcomb will slide into the fourth spot in the order. So, where do they go for their fifth? Will it be Kyle Wright or Bryse Wilson? Both made the club out of Spring Training 2019 as the team dealt with injuries to both Mike Foltynewicz and Mike Soroka. Both will once again be given every opportunity to win the final spot entering 2020. But, don’t count out fellow righty Touki Toussaint, who showed spurts of putting his fastball command along with his nasty curveball. The Braves are also going to give 33 year old Felix Hernandez a chance to rejuvenate his career, much the same as Anibal Sanchez did in 2018. Even if he doesn’t prove to be the longterm answer, if he can give the team ten to fifteen starts to bridge the gap for another young starter to have more time, he’d be worth every penny of the $1 million dollar salary he’d earn. My best guess is Newcomb and Hernandez round out the rotation and hold the fort until Cole Hamels is ready to return from his shoulder injury.

File-This July 30, 2019, file photo shows Atlanta Braves shortstop Johan Camargo throwing out Washington Nationals’ Howie Kendrick at first base on his ground ball during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Washington. Camargo sees an open path to a second chance to be the Atlanta Braves’ starting third baseman. After hard lessons in a demotion to the minors last season, Camargo has renewed motivation to make the most of this second opportunity. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

Third Base: Perhaps just as important as what happens on the mound will be the competition that takes place at the hot corner. Both Johan Camargo and Austin Riley will compete at third base to win the every day job. Camargo entered camp about 20 pounds lighter and much more trim than this time last year, while Riley spent his offseason refining his swing with a coach in Texas. Camargo says he’s worked hard to improve his range, something he felt was lacking last season. While Riley on the other hand looks at his simplified mechanics adjustments made in the offseason as a benefit where he doesn’t have to spend six weeks in Florida making those changes. In a perfect world, I think the team would love for Riley to get four at bats a day to start the season in Triple-A. But, the fact they know he can also play the corner outfield spots and is also going to get reps at first base could help him return to Atlanta sooner rather than later. If I had to guess, it’s Camargo’s job to lose at this point.

Bullpen: While the relief corps has been a main area of focus for Alex Anthopouls and company, there could potentially be a spot or two up for grabs during camp. Lefties AJ Minter, Grant Dayton and Phil Pfeifer will all be in the mix, as will righty Jacob Webb, who missed the final two months of the season last year with a right elbow impingement. All of the above still have options remaining, so even those who don’t make the cut will still be one phone call away at Triple-A. I love what I saw from Webb in 2019, posting a 1.39 ERA over 36 appearances with nearly a strikeout per outing.

As we’ve seen in years past, there’s always a few surprises that pop up during the course of spring, so expect the unexpected. But, unlike years past, the Braves are starting their spring session relatively healthy and hope to have Cole Hamels join the club as early as this weekend. Don’t forget, you can hear and follow every pitch of Braves Grapefruit League baseball on The Fan family of stations and we will be sure to let you know where to find the play-by-play every single day!

Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet

Spring Training – Position Players Arrive & Other News!

FILE – Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman (5) hits a solo-home run off Miami Marlins starting pitcher Wei-Yin Chen in the third inning of a baseball game Monday, July 30, 2018 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

680 THE FAN – NORTH PORT, FLORIDA – Monday morning, as position players continued to file in the Atlanta clubhouse in North Port, the club rewarded both its General Manager along with Field Manager (and staff) with contract extensions. Alex Anthopoulos has a new title, promoted to President of Baseball Operations/General Manager, a title he will hold through at least 2024. Meawhile, Brian Snitker, the definition of a baseball lifer, can drop the “lame duck” status, getting an extension that takes both him and his entire staff through the 2021 season. Yes, Snit had 2020 guaranteed, but prior to today, the club held an option on him for next season.

Atlanta Braves manager Brian Snitker, right, and bench coach Walt Weiss watch from a golf cart as the pitchers and catchers get loose during spring training baseball camp Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, in North Port, Fla. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Most players inside the clubhouse actually found out the news when reporters asked them to comment. One in particular was more ecstatic than the others, as the face of the franchise Freddie Freeman was smiling ear to ear while talking about what both men mean to him. “It’s amazing, I’m a huge Snit fan. I was very vocal after the 2016 season to have him come back off the interim term” Freeman said on Monday. “He’s a leader, everyone respects him, he understands this culture of the Atlanta Braves. He is the Atlanta Braves” Freddie added. If you looked up “players manager” in the dictionary, it would likely include a photo of Snit, now four-plus decades into his tenure with the organization. But, what his players respect more than anything is knowing Snit always has their back. That was never more clear than 2018 when Jose Urena hit Ronald Acuna intentionally with a pitch which infuriated the Braves skipper. “That’s my kid” a teary eyed Brian Snitker said that night. And once the season rolls around, he’s sure to have 25 more of those “kids” in the room.

In addition, the man who has put together the club gets a new title and guarantee for five more seasons as Alex Anthopoulos continues to attempt to build a World Series champion. While the job security will be comforting for Anthopoulos, it also helps ensure he isn’t lured away by another club after seeing the success he’s had the last two seasons assembling the division champs.

Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet.

Braves lefty Fried focuses on mental approach for boost

Atlanta Braves pitchers, from left, Shane Greene, Mike Foltynewicz and Max Fried loosen up at spring training baseball camp in North Port, Fla., Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (Curtis Compton/AP)

NORTH PORT, Fla. (AP) — Max Fried throws a firm fastball and features a sharp curve, keys to a breakout season last year with the Atlanta Braves.

Moving ahead, he’s focusing on a few other factors that aren’t so easily apparent.

Fried has been working on meditation. He believes in visualization. He incorporates breathing into his movements while working out, also using it as a way to calm down and relax.

“I think a big step I can take is taking the mental game to the next level,” Fried said. “There’s only so much your body can do before you break down. Meditation helps because there’s a of stress on the field, high pressure. You have to find ways to calm yourself down and take a relaxed approach.”

At 26, the left-hander has already made huge strides.

Fried went 17-6 with a 4.02 ERA last season as Atlanta won its second straight NL East title. In 30 starts and 165 2/3 innings, he walked just 47 while striking out 173.

From being open to new ideas, plus working with a good support system and a psychologist, Fried has learned to prepare, yet adapt.

“I noticed the more preparation I did and the more prepared I was, it felt easier and fun,” he said. “But you can go in and have all the plans in the world but if that first hitter hits a home run, things change real quick. You can’t be too set on a game plan. It’s a game where you have to make adjustments, some that are completely opposite of what the planning was before the game.”

“The more experiences you have, good and bad, the better. They give you different perspectives and you grow from it,” he said.

Said manager Brian Snitker: “You look at Max and quietly, he had one of the best seasons in the National League.”

“The last couple of years, he’s been fighting through physical things and battling his way back. He learned a lot the last couple of years, he put it together and the sky is the limit,” Snitker said.

Fried isn’t retiring batters only by out-thinking them. He consistently throws around 94 mph and his curve ranks among the top five in the majors in vertical movement. His spin rate is far above the average and he often does it throwing less than 75 mph.

“He’s on the right track trying to get more spin,” catcher Tyler Flowers said. “When you have spin access, you get depth. You also hit the spots you want.”

Fried, meanwhile, said he didn’t pay too much attention to his record last year.

“We’re preached to all the time about the process,” Fried said. “It’s really hard to take that and implement that and focus and do the same things, the same routine and be the best version of yourself. But the results will be there and the trust has to be there even when the results are not always there.”

He’s done fine so far.

“I have so much to learn,” he said. “I ask a lot of questions and these are things they tell me. I just wished I learned them when I was 18.”

“I think you have to be a life-long learner. When I first got drafted, the philosophy was completely different. Baseball goes in waves every five, 10 years. You’re changing and adapting and staying current so you survive. There’s a lot of things that can be lost along the way,” he said.

NOTES: 3B Johan Camargo showed up to camp 18 pounds lighter than last year. He came in at 187. … Teammates and coaches gave P Josh Tomlin a warm welcome when he arrived. After testing the waters, he signed a minor league deal with the team this week. “I was so happy to see him walk in the door,” Snitker said. “He’s an integral part of everything we do. The person he is, the pro he is. He brings instant credibility.” … Flowers on not being opposed to sharing duties as catcher. “I don’t want to play 150 games,” he said. “I’d be done. The climate in Atlanta is so hard. I don’t know how Brian McCann did it.”



Johan Camargo – In Great Shape & Ready For Spring Training

File-This July 30, 2019, file photo shows Atlanta Braves shortstop Johan Camargo throwing out Washington Nationals’ Howie Kendrick at first base on his ground ball during the eighth inning of a baseball game in Washington. Camargo sees an open path to a second chance to be the Atlanta Braves’ starting third baseman. After hard lessons in a demotion to the minors last season, Camargo has renewed motivation to make the most of this second opportunity. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

680 THE FAN, NORTHPORT, FL – Every year as Spring Training opens up, inevitably there’s one player who proclaims to be in “the best shape of my life.” Now, while he hasn’t openly said it, Johan Camargo very well could be that guy in the Braves clubhouse during the course of camp. Shedding roughly 20 pounds over the last four months, followers of his on Instagram were taken into the gym on a daily basis this offseason to see all the hard work he was putting in. And now, he has just shy of six weeks to prove he deserves to be the guy at the hot corner for the Braves on Opening Day in Arizona.

Watching Johan take some early BP on the main field today, it’s clear he’s stronger and was putting on quite a power display from both sides of the plate. Partnered in a group that includes fellow third baseman (and outfielder) Austin Riley and veteran infielder Yonder Alonso, Camargo hit line drive after line drive and routinely found the concourse in right center field at CoolToday Park. This time last year, he had lost his job to Josh Donaldson and arrived at camp having sat out of Winter Ball. But here in 2020, he’ll compete with Austin Riley, who likely starts the season at Triple-A, for the starting job at third base.

We know Camargo can compete at this level. In 2017, he appeared in 82 games for the Braves, batting .299 with a .783 OPS before suffering a freak knee injury as he hopped over the first base line just prior to first pitch. He followed that up with a 2018 season that saw him belt a career-best 19 home runs in 134 games, posting an .806 OPS. But, playing time was sparse last season and he found himself demoted to Triple-A to get more regular at bats. This spring, Camargo has a golden opportunity to prove he’s the guy he was in 2017 and 2018 and earn his every day role back once again. The fact that the team never truly pursued Nolan Arenado or Kris Bryant over the offseason when they were reportedly available should give him an even added boost of confidence with games starting a week from tomorrow.

Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and @BravesRadioNet.

Cole Hamels: No Show At Spring Training Due To Sore Shoulder

680 THE FAN ATLANTA – As pitchers and catchers (along with a number of early arriving position players) filed into the clubhouse at CoolToday Park in North Port, there was one noticeable no-show. Cole Hamels, signed by the Braves to a one-year, $18 million dollar deal in December, will be sidelined for at least the next three weeks as he deals with a sore shoulder. Brian Snitker announced the news on Wednesday morning that Hamels is still in Dallas, TX dealing with an injury he suffered this offseason working on weighted ball drills.

“He didn’t give us any concerns, he feels good about where he’s at right now” Brian Snitker said on Wednesday. It’s just more precautionary to where you shut a guy down and get him well and get him right” Snitker added. Shoulder injuries are nothing new to Hamels who missed (what would have been) his third career start with the Phillies in 2006 and has had issues with the same shoulder in 2009 and 2011, also with Philadelphia.

With Hamels being sidelined for at least half of Braves camp, opportunity now arises for young arms like Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson, Touki Toussaint, Ian Anderson and others to possibly help bridge the gap until Hamels is healthy. While the news on Cole Hamels wasn’t good on Wednesday morning, that’s the only real injury issue for the team as they get set for their first official workout of 2020 tomorrow morning here in North Port.

Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and @BravesRadioNet.

Starter Breakdown: Pitchers Report To Spring Training

680 THE FAN ATLANTA – With pitchers and catchers officially reporting to their brand new home in North Port today, I thought it’d be fun to take a look at the starting rotation and how things could shake out over the coming weeks between now and Opening Day. We saw some tremendous growth from guys like Mike Soroka and Max Fried in 2019, and Mike Foltynewicz definitely turned things around after a disastrous first half that saw him optioned to Triple-A to get himself right. Beyond those three who are locks, there are certainly question marks regarding how the fourth and fifth spots will shake out during camp. Here’s a cheat sheet on what to watch for during the next six weeks.

 Mike Soroka (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Mike Soroka: The 22 year old right-hander enjoyed a breakout campaign last season, one that saw him represent the Braves in the Mid Summer Classic. Soroka went 13-4 while posting a 2.68 ERA in 29 starts. The young Canadian hurler would eventually finish second in the NL Rookie of the Year balloting (behind Pete Alonso) and sixth in the Cy Young voting. While his home and road splits were a bit perplexing (7-1, 1.55 at home; 6-3, 4.14 on road), Soroka is tired of trying to explain why he’s had more success away from Truist Park. Those splits were drastic enough for the Front Office and coaching staff to hold him back until Game Three of the NLDS last season, citing his success on the road as the main factor. Last year we know that Snit and Rick Kranitz wanted to take things easy on Soroka (and Fried for that matter), but I fully expect the kid gloves to come off and for the club to lean more on those guys in higher leverage and late game situations. Unless something drastic happens during camp, you can go ahead and pencil in Soroka to start Opening Day in Arizona on March 26th. The sky is the limit for this young man who has already established himself as one of the best pitchers in the National League.
2020 prediction: 16-5, 3.34 ERA in 32 starts

Max Fried (AP Photo/John Amis)

Max Fried: Much like his buddy Mike Soroka, Max Fried enjoyed a stellar 2019 season which saw him lead the team with 17 wins while posting a 4.02 ERA in 33 appearances (30 starts). Mostly known for his fastball and curveball, Fried also started going to the slider more often, a pitch he felt like really helped propel him to the next level. But there’s one obvious concern when it comes to Max Fried and that has nothing to do with his arm, shoulder, elbow, etc. It has to deal with the blister issue he’s had to deal with over the last few years. But midway through the 2019 season, Fried said he felt like the training staff had come up with a new way to treat his finger between starts to prevent moisture buildup which leads to those pesky blisters. During Spring Training last year, Brian McCann was extremely complimentary of the Braves young southpaw, comparing him to a young Cole Hamels. Well this year, Fried should benefit from having the former World Series MVP in Hamels by his side in the Braves rotation. I’d think Fried could start the season as the number two starter behind Mike Soroka and much like Soroka, I think Fried really could establish himself as a solid top of the rotation starter here in 2020.
2020 prediction: 13-7, 4.04 ERA in 31 starts

Mike Foltynewicz (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Mike Foltynewicz: In my opinion, this is an extremely important season for Mike Foltynewicz, who got off to a disastrous start to last season. Dealing with an elbow issue during Spring, Folty never really got his legs under him over the first two months of the regular season. His slider, which is such an important pitch for him, wasn’t there. He was in pain and often times afraid to let it rip. Things got so bad for him that the club had to option him to Triple-A after eleven starts with an ERA approaching six and a half. Through those first 11 starts, he had allowed 16 home runs, one shy of his total from all of 2018. But, following his demotion, Foltynewicz returned with a vengeance, posting a 2.65 ERA over his final ten starts of the regular season. Strikeouts were up, walks were down and he kept the ball in the ballpark. We all know Mike Foltynewicz wears his emotions on his sleeve. Over the last few years, he’s talked about taking deep breaths, not allowing his emotions to get the best of him, and going out there and controlling what he can control. For Folty, 33 starts of just that would be just what this team needs. Folty isn’t a “young starter” anymore. The 2020 season marks his age 28 season, his sixth in a Braves uniform. With Julio Teheran gone, the Braves need Folty to step up and become a guy they can count on to give them seven innings every five days. If he can do that, he’ll give the team something to think about when it comes to a contract extension. If not, he could end up being a non-tender candidate next offseason. But, I like what I saw from Foltynewicz (take away Game Five against St Louis) and think he’s got a legit chance of being the guy the team has long hoped he would be for them,
2020 prediction: 12-10, 4.10 ERA in 29 starts

Cole Hamels (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

Cole Hamels: While it still feels weird that the former Phillie will be wearing the Tomahawk this summer, Hamels provides instant credibility to a rather young pitching staff. After dealing with an oblique injury last summer, Hamels told me he feels great and is excited to join this rotation alongside Soroka, Fried and others. The 36 year old lefty agreed to a one year deal back in December to come to Atlanta after hearing good things from his good buddy and former teammate Ryan Howard who now lives in the area. Over 14 seasons in the Big Leagues, Hamels has logged 200+ innings eight times and has eclipsed the 150 inning mark in 11 of those 14 campaigns. Hamels is a four time All Star, World Series MVP and has tossed a no-hitter and started a combined no-hitter that the Phillies tossed against the Braves at Turner Field in 2014. Having the presence of a guy like Hamels will not only benefit the solidified starters but also have a positive impact on the progress of prospects like Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson, Ian Anderson, Kyle Muller and others. Hamels likely enters the season as the number four starter, but will be extremely motivated to prove he’s got something left in the tank only being on a one-year deal.
2020 prediction: 9-9, 4.20 ERA in 31 starts

Sean Newcomb (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

There are the first four. Now the big question becomes the fifth starter. We know Atlanta is going to give Sean Newcomb a shot at earning the job over the coming weeks. We also know the team signed veteran and former Cy Young Award winner Felix Hernandez to a Minor League deal. And unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, we also know that the team has a number of pitching prospects like Kyle Wright, Bryse Wilson, Touki Toussaint and Ian Anderson that could all prove their ready to make the jump. I honestly don’t know how this will all play out over the next six weeks. If (and I know it’s a big IF) Felix Hernandez shows he’s got something left during camp, I could certainly envision a scenario where he wins the fifth spot as a placeholder until one of the other young arms is ready. While it’d be nice to see a guy like Newcomb step up and win that spot back, I also can’t discount the importance of the job he did out of the bullpen last season. He was a more aggressive and much more confident guy when called upon in relief. I’d honestly love to see him left in that role, especially now with the three batter minimum.
2020 prediction: Felix Hernandez breaks as the fifth starter and gives way to Ian Anderson in June.

Well there you have it, a quick rundown of what the Braves rotation could look like in six weeks. Only time will tell how this all plays out, but you can follow all of our coverage from North Port for the duration of camp on 680 The Fan and through all of our social media outlets!

Kevin McAlpin has covered the Braves since 2012 for @680TheFan and the @BravesRadioNet

Hamels eager to fill leadership void on young Braves staff

FILE – In this Sept. 6, 2019, file photo, Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Cole Hamels throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, in Milwaukee. Left-hander Cole Hamels agreed to an $18 million, one-year contract with the Atlanta Braves, one of the more active teams of the offseason. (AP Photo/Morry Gash, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves need new veteran leadership for a rotation that has lost Julio Teheran and Dallas Keuchel.

Left-hander Cole Hamels is eager to fill the void as pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Wednesday.

The 36-year-old Hamels, who signed an $18 million, one-year deal with Atlanta on Dec. 4, brings much-needed experience to a young rotation that also includes Mike Soroka, Max Fried and Mike Foltynewicz.

Soroka, who could be the team’s opening day pitcher, is only 22. Fried is 26. Foltynewicz is 28.

Hamels wants to be a resource for the young starters. He remembers such veterans as Roy Halladay set the example for him when he broke into the major leagues with Philadelphia in 2006.

“When I came up I was very fortunate to have an organization that looked into what veteran leadership is,” Hamels said last month. “They surrounded me with some of the best players and pitchers that I could ever been around. Roy Halladay, (Roy) Oswalt, Cliff Lee, Jamie Moyer, those are great guys to learn from and I think it helped me elevate my game and become a better pitcher.”

Hamels has 163 wins in 14 seasons with the Phillies, Texas Rangers and Chicago Cubs.

Almost every starting pitcher in camp is much younger than Hamels.

Félix Hernández, the former Seattle standout who will be in camp on a minor league contract as he tries to revive his career, also can be a role model for young pitchers. Hernández, who turns 34 in April, may compete with Sean Newcomb and rookie right-handers Kyle Wright, Ian Anderson and Bryse Wilson for the No. 5 spot in the rotation.

“You can’t see it all in this game, but they’ve come pretty close to seeing it all,” Anderson said of Hamels and Hernández.

Hamels should be especially helpful for Fried and Newcomb, left-handers who say they can’t wait to watch the veteran work. Fried said Hamels “is the person I’m most frequently compared to.”

Fried wants to learn more about Hamels’ changeup.

“Obviously, one of his biggest weapons is one I’ve been working on for a long time, so I’m excited to pick his brain on the changeup,” Fried said.

Hamels said it’s only fair that he share knowledge from his long career. After all, he said he picked up tips about pitching mechanics as a kid by watching former longtime Braves left-hander Tom Glavine, another master of the changeup, when most Atlanta games were televised by TBS.

“He was somebody I really looked at and wanted to have some similarities,” Hamels said of Glavine. “The changeup was a pitch I knew the importance of. It’s helped me to this day. … I tried to emulate his mechanics a little bit.”

Hamels was 7-7 with a 3.81 ERA in 27 starts with the Cubs last season. He was 6-3 with a 2.98 ERA in the first half before posting a 5.79 ERA in the second half.

Hamels said he rushed his return from an oblique injury last season and won’t make that mistake again. That’s only one of many lessons he said he’s eager to share because “I know where I’m at” as a veteran.

“I think that … I’m hopefully able to introduce some of the experiences I have, what’s really gotten me to where I am today and see if guys can learn from some of the advice that I have,” Hamels said.

Pitchers and catchers will have their first workout on Thursday at the Braves’ new spring training home in North Port, Florida. Position players report on Monday and the first full-squad workout is next Tuesday.




FILE – In this Sept. 11, 2019, file photo, Chicago Cubs pitcher Cole Hamels works against a San Diego Padres batter during the fourth inning of a baseball game in San Diego. The Atlanta Braves need new veteran leadership for a rotation that has lost Julio Teheran and Dallas Keuchel. Left-hander Cole Hamels is eager to fill the void as pitchers and catchers report to spring training on Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull, File)

680 THE FAN ATLANTA – No more Disney in Orlando. The Braves have moved on to their new complex just south of Sarasota, in North Port. The Buck & Kincade Show goes live with the Braves all next week! Make plans to join us, as we bring on the Braves top players, to talk about the upcoming season.

Things I’m looking forward to checking out: 1- Top-rated prospect Cristian Pache, 2- the new Braves: Ozuna, Hamels & Will Smith, 3- the young stars: Acuna & Albies, 4- the healthy elbow of Freddie Freeman, and 5- slugger Austin Riley.

Pache is the Braves next centerfielder. Cristian is a plus-defender and had a breakout year offensively last season, with 57 extra base hits. Expect to see a combination of speed, power & athleticism. When will he bust into the Braves line-up? Sometime this season it would appear. Can’t wait to check this skill set out next week!

Ozuna will hit clean-up for us this season and should off-set what we lost in Donaldson. Marcel is an above-average MLB hitter, with the upside to be a monster! I’m expecting something close to a 30-90 season. Plug him in for 150 games and let’s play ball.

Will Smith signed a 3-year deal with the Braves to pitch the 8th & 9th innings of games we have the lead in…he features a 3-pitch mix and can command the 4-seam fastball (93 mph), the slider and the curve ball. That’s what makes him special. He is a Newnan guy, so you know he’s thrilled to be with the Braves! We’ll invite Will to come on our show.

Acuna and Albies are two of the best players in baseball! And so athletic! These two make batting practice and infield reps (Ozzie) fun to watch.

Freeman sounds relieved to get the painful elbow behind him. Freddie’s surgery removed 2 bone spurs and 3 fragmented loose bodies. He’s 100% and ready to play all-star caliber baseball, pain-free! Hope to get him on our show, again.
Austin Riley has been kicked around a lot for a guy that hit 33 bombs last season (combined MLB/AAA). The strikeouts did pile up, after that amazing start… maybe he turns out to be the new Adam Dunn. Or maybe he rakes, with a better approach against the slider and the fastball up in the zone. And now we get to see him at 3rd base!

Yeah, this is going to be fun! Hope to report back on all the top golf courses in this area too! Spring training typically allows for an afternoon round!

Join The Buck & Kincade Show (12-3) all next week, as we broadcast from the Braves new training complex!

Braves to Introduce a New Digital Documentary Series

The Five-Part, Weekly Series to Debut February 20



ATLANTA (February 3, 2020) – The Atlanta Braves will introduce a new, weekly digital documentary series during their inaugural season at CoolToday Park in North Port, Fla. beginning Thursday, February 20.  The series will air on the Braves YouTube channel, with short teaser clips shared across the team’s social platforms.

“Our fans enjoy behind-the-scenes content and we felt this would be the ultimate way to have them see what happens as the team prepares for the upcoming season,” said Adam Zimmerman, Braves senior vice president of marketing.  “We feel this series will show the hard work put in by our players and coaches with a little glimpse of their life off the field as well.”

Titled, Behind the Braves: 2020 Atlanta Braves Spring Training, the series will take an in-depth look at the new Braves Spring Training facility, offer insight into how the team trains and prepares for the upcoming season and will give perspective on what a day in the life for Braves players and coaches is like.  The series will be narrated by Braves radio broadcaster Ben Ingram.

Coverage will also include storylines that develop over the course of six weeks in Florida.

A new episode will be released every Thursday for five weeks, beginning February 20 and will run through March 19th.

Spring Training 2020 will mark the Braves 75th consecutive year in Florida, but their first at CoolToday Park.  CoolToday Park is a $125 million state-of-the-art complex located in West Villages in the City of North Port, Sarasota County.  Spread across 90 acres with seven fields (four Major League, three Minor League), 11 batting cages and 63 pitching mounds, the ballpark’s capacity is 8,000 with a Northeast orientation and dimensions mirroring Truist Park.

CoolToday Park will host 17 home games beginning Saturday, February 22 versus the Baltimore Orioles.  Tickets can be purchased online at, by calling 941-413-5004 or in person at the CoolToday Park ticket office.

The Braves begin the defense of the National League East pennant on Thursday, March 26 at the Arizona Diamondbacks and will celebrate their home opener at Truist Park on Friday, April 3 versus the Miami Marlins.  Tickets for the regular season can be purchased at or in person at the Truist Park ticket office.