WSB Sports Director Tony Schiavone has a unique perspective with the Atlanta Braves. He will enter his fifth season as the play by play voice of the Gwinnett Braves, Atlanta's Triple-A team. He has seen the rise of Freedie Freeman, Craig Kimbrel, Jonny Venters and Jason Heyward into stardom.
Fans this weekend will get their first chance to see the "new" Atlanta Braves outfield of Up, Up and Hey. Yes, there is plenty of excitement in seeing B.J. and Justin Upton roaming the green along with Jason Heyward. And based on the numbers all three bring with them, the regular season could be a run-producing affair.
Heyward's 2012 season was far removed from his sophomore slump of 2011. The 6-foot-5, 235-pound phenom batted .269 with 27 home runs, 21 stolen bases and an .814 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). B.J. brings with him 118 homers and 232 stolen bases in only eight years of Major League experience. Justin, in only six years in the bigs, is two seasons removed from hitting 31 homers and batting .289 with the Diamondbacks. He has a solid .289 career batting average.
Spring Training 2013 officially began February 11 when pitchers and catchers reported to the facility at Walt Disney World. But the games begin this weekend.
The Braves will play three games this weekend begin with a Friday afternoon matchup against Detroit at Disney's Champions Stadium. On Saturday, the New York Yankees arrive at Disney , and Sunday the Braves make their first spring trip as they travel to Bradenton to meet the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Tim Hudson will start Friday and will work two innings. Expect to see Craig Kimbrel pitch as well.
The Braves projected spring batting order will be much like what fans will see in the regular season (duh!):
1-Andrelton Simmons SS
2-Jason Heyward RF
3-Justin Upton LF
4-Freddie Freeman 1B
5-B.J. Upton CF
6-Dan Uggla 2B
7-Juan Francisco 3B
8-Gerald Laird C
The Braves will also use a DH during the early spring games, and of course, when Brian McCann returns in mid-April the lineup will juggle.
wsbradio.com will be traveling to Spring Training in mid-March. Look for our exclusive interviews, photo galleries and videos.