Jordan Walden was flattered when he found out he was acquired by
the Atlanta Braves for starting pitcher Tommy Hanson.
Now Walden hopes he’s injury free and he finds a role in an
already deep Braves bullpen.
”So far, so good,” Walden said Tuesday. ”I’ve only been here
one day. It’s a lot different than the Angels, but just the fact
that the Braves traded a good pitcher to get me means a lot to
Walden made 45 appearances for the Los Angeles Angels last year
in a season interrupted by biceps and shoulder injuries. He went
3-2 with a 3.46 ERA and one save, losing his closer job to Ernesto
The right-hander was an All-Star closer in 2011, but the Braves
have Craig Kimbrel in that role. Jonny Venters and Eric O’Flaherty
are Atlanta’s setup men.
”I know my job is to set up Kimbrel,” Walden said. ”I don’t
know where I fit in here yet, but my job is to just be a part of
this team for now. There’s no reason to worry about closing when we
Hanson, 13-10 with a career-worst 4.48 ERA last year and 45-32
in four seasons, was expected to develop into another ace in a long
run of top Braves starters. But with the rise of Kris Medlen and
several other starters showing promise, Atlanta had options.
Despite a bullpen with the fifth-best ERA in the majors last
year at 3.42, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he never could
have enough relief help.
”It’s a great situation to have him,” Gonzalez said after the
first workout for pitchers and catchers. ”We can use him in all
kinds of situations. From the seventh to the ninth innings, we have
more choices to get things ready for Kimbrel. We can mix and match
with another righty and he helps us get the best out of our
O’Flaherty and Venters are left-handers, and Kimbrel and Walden
are right-handers, so Gonzalez said that gives him the kind of
flexibility he wants in the late innings.
”He looked great,” Gonzalez said. ”I had never seen him
before, but he’s going to be a big help to us, especially when it
comes to lefty-lefty, righty-righty matchups.”
NOTES: Several Braves position players reported early on
Tuesday, including brothers B.J. and Justin Upton. B.J. Upton,
signed as a free agent from Tampa Bay, said it was no big deal.
”I’ve been playing with him as long as I can remember,” he said.
”No big deal at all.” The Uptons have adjoining lockers in the
Braves clubhouse. . Dan Uggla has taken the locker that was used by
Chipper Jones, who retired after last season. . Besides the Uptons
and Uggla, Freddie Freeman and Jason Hayward also showed up early.
Gonzalez said everyone who was expected showed up on time.