Walden excited to be with Braves

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

me.”

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

Frieri.

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

have Craig.”

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

bullpen.”

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.