2012 Atlanta Braves Spring Training

ESPN Wide World of Sports

            I’ll admit my excitement for my Spring Break trip to Orlando really plummeted after the Braves started Spring Training with a 1-10 record. However, I was determined to keep my hopes up that I would bring home at least one Braves win once the three game home stand was over.

            {A little background on Spring Training: Before the regular season begins, each MLB team spends approximately a month playing exhibition games against other major league teams to prepare for the upcoming season. Pitchers and catchers often arrive several weeks earlier to begin working on their Teams are divided between Florida (Grapefruit League) and Arizona (Cactus League), warm weather locations where teams don’t have to worry about winter weather.}

            The first part of the break I spent reading up on Braves news I’ve missed since Spring Training started- what players had been cut from the roster, what players were injured or recovering from surgery/previous injuries and what players were showing the adjustments and improvements they made during the off-season. Since a number of minor league players are invited to Spring Training each year for a chance to earn a spot on the major league roster, it’s important to know who these players are before you head down to Spring Training to know what actually has a chance of playing and what they bring to the team.

            On Friday, March 16th, my boyfriend Ben and I left Rome, Georgia around two in the morning for the trip to Orlando. After seven and a half hour drive, and a short nap break in the Bojangle’s parking lot in Valdosta, we finally arrived in Orlando and made our way straight to the ESPN Wide World of Sports to check out the venue and grab a meal before heading to the stadium.

Champion Stadium

Friday- 6:05 p.m. vs. the Houston Astros

FINAL:  Braves win 9-5

This game appeared to be somewhat of a Homerun Derby for the Braves, led by a first inning grand slam by Jason Heyward to put the Braves up 5-1. Former Atlanta Brave Jordan Shafer caused a little trouble for the Braves, with two hits and two runs in three at-bats. Pitcher Tommy Hanson showed off his new delivery method in the win against Astros after giving up five hits over three innings.

 

Saturday- 1:05 p.m. vs. the Toronto Blue Jays

FINAL: Braves win 5-3

[This was a split-squad game. The Braves also beat the Mets 3-2 on Saturday.]

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, the Braves donned festive green hats during the game. While it might have been the “Luck of the Irish,” the Braves handed the Blue Jays, having one of the best Spring Training records in the MLB with a 12-3 record, a 5-3 loss. Second baseman Dan Uggla continued to show his amazing strength, hitting a two-run homerun and giving the Braves a nice lead heading into the seventh inning. Pitcher Brandon Beachy had a commanding performance, allowing just one run over four innings with six strikeouts.

Sunday- 1:05 p.m. vs. the Baltimore Orioles

FINAL: 2-2 tie after 10 innings

"How can you not be romantic about baseball?"

            While a tie might seem disappointing, looking on the bright side it definitely isn’t a loss. The Braves had a strong outing against the Orioles, who had a 6-7 record in Spring Training. Pitcher Mike Minor, just one of the players seeking a spot in the regular season starting rotation, extended his streak of scoreless innings to 14 after pitching five innings.

Overall, I was very impressed with what I saw in Orlando. While Spring Training is important to prepare players for the 162-game regular season and to give minor league players a chance to move up in the league, it certainly doesn’t determine how teams will fare in the regular season. So despite the Braves rather disappointing record, I still think they certainly have the chance to be serious competitors in the National League.

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