Braves add Benson to non-roster list, option Cunniff

Atlanta Braves outfielder Joe Benson has materialized as a contender for the Opening Day roster.

Carlos Osorio/AP

With only three games remaining on the spring schedule, most teams are trimming their roster as the regular season approaches. The Atlanta Braves made an addition on Thursday.

Outfielder Joe Benson was added to the non-roster invitation list as the team also optioned pitcher Brandon Cunniff to Triple-A Gwinnett. While the combined moves don’t necessarily mean the Braves’ roster grew, it does signify that Benson has a shot at the Opening Day roster.

Benson signed a contract with the Braves in January and was invited to minor league camp. Over the course of spring training, the Braves brought the 27-year-old Benson over to major league camp to help on the basepaths late in games, or as a late-inning substitution.

On Wednesday Benson got a start in center field, promptly blasting a home run of Philadelphia starter Cole Hamels. The Braves rewarded Benson officially inviting him to camp.

Atlanta’s regular season begins on April 6 in Miami, as the Braves take on the Marlins. Between now and then the team will decide if it wants to keep Benson on as a bench bat once the regular season begins.

The decision could come down to Benson of Todd Cunningham for that final spot.

Benson is 3 for 12 (.333) this spring with a gome run and two RBI. Cunningham is 14 for 49 (.318) with two doubles and five RBI.

Benson last played in the majors in 2011 with the Minnesota Twins. He hit .239 with seven extra-base hits in 21 games.