The 2017 Atlanta Braves have six more Spring Training games left to play, and the Opening Day lineup is starting to come into focus.
Opening Day for our Atlanta Braves (April 3, 2017) is right around the corner, and for the next few Spring Training games, we’ll get a glance at what that looks like. With six pre-season games left, and the World Baseball Classic over, all team compliments have reported, and will get work.
This is significant because the ostensible Lead-Off hitter, Ender Inciarte, had been playing in the WBC for his native country of Venezuela, but played in yesterday’s tilt against the Detroit Tigers, going 1-3 on the day.
Starting First Baseman, Freddie Freeman, has also returned to the Braves, hitting a HR in yesterday’s 2-1 win over the Tigers. With the return of those two starters, and a schedule that requires little travel, Braves fans will get a look at the full Opening Day batting order in action. That hasn’t happened since March 4th..
Anyone who has played the game of baseball knows that, while each position is an island, of sorts, it isn’t just fielding that requires practice. While it may not seem obvious, hitting also requires communication. That type of communication can only improve with time practicing in-game situations with live batting and in order.
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One thing that Braves fans can be thankful for is that everyone, seemingly, is coming in healthy. The risk of playing in the WBC is injury. For instance, former Brave Martin Prado incurred a “significant” hamstring injury during the tournament. Inciarte and Freeman are healthy as far as we know.
Over these next few days, with games against Detroit , New York (Mets), and Baltimore, look for Snitker to try find a some cohesion in the batting order. I’d also look for them to start running bases more now that Inciarte and Brandon Phillips are in the same lineup.
While it isn’t a perfect indicator of how the 2017 season will go (it is an incredibly long season), these next few games could give a forecast of how the month of April might look. We might get early guesses as to who has the green light at the plate, how aggressive on the pads they will be, and what kind of chemistry exists between Swanson and Phillips in the field?
There is a quiet optimism about these 2017 Atlanta Braves. No one is proclaiming them “back”, and the starting rotation is still a giant question mark. But the batting order, and names that fill it, are cause for some faith. If you want to see them at work, tune in these next couple of days.