Braves beat Future Stars 10-0 in exhibition

Dan Uggla’s three-run homer cleared the left-center fence by a

good 15 feet. A few pitches later, Chris Johnson’s no-doubter

sailed even farther, landing under the scoreboard and bouncing

between fans.

Evan Gattis topped them both a few hours later, launching a

monster shot over the left-field wall that sailed into the parking

lot.

It was another good day for Atlanta’s offense. The regular

season can’t come soon enough.

The Braves beat a collection of the organization’s Future Stars

10-0 on Saturday in their final exhibition game before opening the

season Monday at home against Philadelphia.

”We swung the bats well – we played well,” Atlanta manager

Fredi Gonzalez said. ”We came out of it healthy, which is always a

big concern, and guys got their at-bats.”

Atlanta led the National League in spring training with 344 hits

and 49 homers. That success carried over to Saturday’s exhibition,

which was played at the home of the Braves’ Double-A team in Pearl,

a suburb of Jackson, Miss.

The Braves pounded out 12 hits, five for extra bases.

Andrelton Simmons and Jason Heyward started the game with

back-to-back doubles to give the Braves a quick 1-0 lead. Freddie

Freeman followed with a single and then Uggla connected for his

three-run homer off left-hander Sean Gilmartin.

It was an encouraging sign for Uggla, the high-priced second

baseball who has struggled in recent seasons and hit just .200

during spring training with two homers and six RBIs. He was 2 for 3

on Saturday.

”All spring training you’re just working on your swing, trying

to get it as consistent as possible,” Uggla said. ”Then leading

up to the season, that’s where you want to peak and feel your best,

so hopefully I can hit the ground running.”

Johnson followed Uggla with a solo shot to nearly the same spot,

just deeper. The third baseman, who was acquired from the Arizona

Diamondbacks as part of the same trade that brought Justin Upton to

Atlanta, hit .361 this spring with three homers and 12 RBIs.

Gonzalez said he was pleased that the offense did so much damage

against a left-handed pitcher. The Braves are scheduled to face two

lefties – Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels – in their opening series

against Philadelphia.

Gattis made the big league club because of his versatility and

his bat. The 26-year-old can play the outfield, first base and

catcher and has shown ample pop this spring with six homers before

Saturday.

”He just keeps hitting them further and further,” Gonzalez

said.

Mike Minor got the win, throwing four scoreless innings in an

encouraging start after a mediocre spring that included a 6.26

ERA.

The left-hander gave up singles to the first two batters he

faced, but then retired 11 straight. He struck out two and walked

none.

”I felt really good today,” Minor said. ”The timing was a lot

better and the mechanical side was a lot better.”

Atlanta closer Craig Kimbrel pitched a scoreless fifth inning.

The Braves’ bullpen – comprised of Kimbrel, Eric O’Flaherty, Jordan

Walden, Luis Avilan and Anthony Varvaro – worked a combined five

shutout innings, giving up three hits and one walk.

Gilmartin took the loss for the Future Stars, allowing seven

runs in 2 2-3 innings.

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