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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