ATLANTA — The countdown to Opening Day is no longer an exercise in days. Baseball is mere hours away now.
With the Braves returning from their spring training in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., a stint that saw offensive firepower on display, it will soon be time to see the new-look team on full display in the friendly confines of Turner Field. The Braves open the season with a six-game home stand against the Phillies and Cubs, starting Monday night.
Tim Hudson takes the mound for the third time as Atlanta’s Opening Day starter (2006, 2008), his sixth time overall.
But with the 25-man roster set to go with intriguing 26-year-old prospect Evan Gattis making the team as a backup catcher, the storylines are beginning to shift away from the young guys fighting for roster spots — shortstop Ramiro Pena and outfielder Jordan Schafer remained in the big leagues as well — and back onto the key cogs in the Braves’ machine.
The Chopcast team — Cory McCartney, Jay Clemons and Zach Dillard (joining on the phone) — gathered to discuss the remaining minor storylines before the national pastime returns. Here are some of the highlights:
— Were there any surprises by who did and who did not make the 25-man roster? Players like Tyler Pastornicky and Joey Terdoslavich put together strong springs, but was it enough to edge out the experience of Schafer, Pena and/or Gattis?
— What are the expectations for Gattis this season?
— Should there be any concern swirling around Jonny Venters’ elbow injury, one in which he will visit the famed Dr. James Andrews for an examination? How much pressure does this now place on Jordan Walden and Eric O’Flaherty until the Braves’ setup man can return?