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    As gray blanketed the January sky and the sun struggled to break through the cloud cover, Braves fans eagerly descended on the newly named Truist Park on Saturday for the team’s annual Chop Fest. High spirits were noticeable across the ballpark as fans played catch on the field, joyously danced the salsa, and interacted with players who circled the concourse meeting the devout fan base. A few attendees strolled through the Monument Garden, reminiscing on the past success of their beloved Braves. Not only was the fan base excited about the event and its plethora of activities but also about the coming season. After a 2019 that resulted in a second consecutive National League East title, the Braves struggled to close out the St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Division Series. In an all-important Game 5, the Braves allowed 10 runs in the first inning, eventually leading to their elimination.  “They were so much better than what happened in that game,” Cynthia Ford said.  Although the season came to a devastating end, supporters have put the past behind them to focus on the current roster and its high ceiling. Ford, who is from Dawsonville, summed up the feelings of many at Chop Fest about last year’s early exit, but was quick to compliment the development of the Braves’ young pitchers.  “Their pitching staff has gotten better,” Ford said. “I really like (Mike) Soroka going into this year, and I think the relievers have taken a step forward.” Ford’s assessment of Soroka is one shared by many. The now 22-year-old led the Braves starters with a 2.68 ERA in 2019, resulting in an All-Star selection in his first full season. As for the bullpen, the Braves’ front office focused on strengthening the relief pitching, leading to the addition of Will Smith on a three-year contract. Chop Fest gave the opportunity for fans outside metro Atlanta to get a glimpse at the personalities and storylines of this year’s iteration of the team. That reason led Jonathan Barnes and his mother Martha Barnes on a three-hour drive from Augusta to Truist Park to get excited about their 2020 season tickets. Martha lamented the departure of Josh Donaldson, who signed a four-year contract worth at least $92 million with the Minnesota Twins, claiming she bought a shirt with his name on it toward the end of last season. Jonathan, however, focused on the ensuing competition at third base as a key position for the Braves to solidify. Jonathan donned a Dale Murphy jersey and affectionately talked about past Braves successes. After a 20-year World Series drought, Barnes thinks the coming season is bound to be special. “We’re extremely excited,” Barnes said. “I think they can take it all the way to the World Series and win.” While Ford and Barnes look back fondly at the days of NL pennants and World Series appearances, not all fans at Chop Fest can remember being at the top. At 22, Seth Everett is one of the unlucky young fans who can’t remember seeing the Braves reach the World Series. He recalled that his grandfather, a dedicated fan, had the opportunity to watch Hank Aaron in his prime, in addition to seeing overall team success. “I love the history of the game, so it sucks that I missed the really good years of the 1990s and the early 2000s,” Everett said. “But I love the history of it, and I really love this team. Hopefully, they can turn it into another run.” Despite not witnessing the heyday of the Braves, Everett stayed optimistic, celebrating the moves made by the front office in the offseason. He championed the deep outfield that was solidified by the acquisition of Marcell Ozuna from the Cardinals. “If (Ozuna) can have any sort of production like he’s had the last few years, it’ll be a great addition,” Everett said.  As for his expectations for 2020, the young Braves fan couldn’t be any clearer. “I expect them to get to the World Series,” Everett said. “If they can keep everyone healthy, they have the players so I’m excited for it.” As Chop Fest neared its conclusion, rays of sun began to shine down on the field, appropriately matching the attitudes of those in attendance. For the fans present, the expectations are just as bright and point to one clear goal: winning the World Series.    
  • An alliance of Atlanta’s big league sports teams is pushing for the legalization of sports betting in Georgia, and we could see the first legislation proposed as soon as next week. The Professional Sports Integrity Alliance is made up of the Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United, the Atlanta Braves and the Atlanta Hawks. The group is lobbying lawmakers to legalize mobile sports betting. That’s wagering done on a phone, all cash, no credit. Atlanta Falcons President and CEO Rich McKay said the sports franchises wouldn’t make a dime off the legalized betting. Instead, all the tax revenue would go to the state of Georgia. He believes the individual franchises would profit from increased fan engagement, something he believes is important in modern sports. “With the younger fans, we need more engagement,”McKay said. “What we’ve seen from all the numbers is how much sports gambling there is going on from that age of 23 to 40, and this becomes an engagement opportunity for us.” McKay said teams would base the betting on the European Model, where bets are made over a phone or mobile device. Because it would not use credit cards, only cash in an account, he believes most bets would be made in the $10 to $20 range. He also said all the leagues and sports teams would take measures to ensure the integrity of the game. On its website, the Alliance states that Georgia is already home to $1.5 billion worth of illegal gambling. “They’re doing it now,” McKay said. “They’re doing it offshore, and they’re doing it illegally. So why wouldn’t we put some restrictions around it? Legalize it. Regulate it, and have the state make revenue off it.” There are some House lawmakers who have said they are open to the idea of approving a constitutional amendment allowing voters to decide on legalizing gambling. But over in the Senate, lawmakers have been cool to the idea. Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan said on the first day of the legislative session that it was not one of his top priorities. “I’ve not had a line of senators over the past nine months outside that office trying to take the door off the hinges to talk about gambling,” Duncan said. While the Alliance believes lawmakers could approve the measure without a constitutional amendment, most under the Gold Dome believe it needs one, and getting one approved requires a two-thirds majority in both houses.
  • Looking for something to do in metro Atlanta this weekend? Whether you like oysters, chili or Mediterranean foods or would prefer to try a restaurant special, you’ll be able to sample them this weekend.  The following are 16 things to do in metro Atlanta this weekend: » RELATED: From beer to bourbon: 7 metro Atlanta festivals happening this February Cobb Atlanta Braves Chop Fest. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25. Free admission, extra charge for player-specific autograph sessions with advance purchase required. Truist Park, 755 Battery Ave., Atlanta. 800-745-3000. https://www.mlb.com. Celebrate the National League East-winning Braves with fun activities like baseball clinics, player photo opportunities, on-field activities, family attractions and games, live entertainment and more. Smyrna Oysterfest. 11 a.m. Friday, Jan. 24, Saturday, Jan. 25 and Sunday, Jan. 26. $8-$15, kids 12 and under free. Atkins Park Restaurant & Bar Smyrna, 2840 Road, Smyrna. 770-435-1887. https://smyrnaoysterfest.com/. The 9th Annual Smyrna Oysterfest is a Mardi Gras-inspired party that features raw, grilled and fried oysters as well as live music. It’s held in a heated tent so the weather won’t be too much of a concern. The Great American Motorcycle Show. 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26. Adults 15 and up $12, two-day pass $20, kids 6-14 $7, kids 5 and under free. Parking $7. Cobb Galleria Centre, Two Galleria Parkway, Atlanta. natcshows.com. See and buy everything to do with motorcycles, including accessories, parts, leathers, helmets, jewelry, boots and more. A BMX bicycle stunt show and live music will be held. Trains! Trains! Trains! 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25 and Sunday, Jan. 26. $4-$9. Southern Museum, 2829 Cherokee St., Kennesaw. 770-427-2117. 770-427-2117. southernmuseum.org. This 10th anniversary event has a Lego Building Challenge as well as a free-play Lego area, new model train layouts and train-related merchandise for sale.  » RELATED: Not your typical bar crawl: Scour for the best wings in Atlanta this spring DeKalb “Mama Makes Up Her Mind.” 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24 and Saturday, Jan. 25 and 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26. $20-$34. ART Station, 5384 Manor Drive, Stone Mountain. 770-469-1105. artstation.org.  This humorous yet touching play is adapted from Bailey White’s memoir of her life in South Georgia.  Run with the Dogs ’20. 8:30 a.m. Pup Trot and 9 a.m. 5K. Saturday, Jan. 25. $30-$40. Starts and finishes on Commerce Drive by Decatur High School Stadium. http://www.rwtd5k.com/. Bring your dog to walk or run a course through Decatur’s residential areas. The course will be well-marked and supervised by volunteers and police. “The Glass Menagerie.” 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24 and Saturday, Jan. 25 and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26. $16-$34. North DeKalb Cultural Arts Center, 5339 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. 770-396-1726. stagedoorplayers.net. The Stage Door Players present Tennessee Williams’ classic play, which tells the story of Laura, an introvert who lives in her own world of make believe, and her brother and mother. Discover the Mediterranean Food & Wine Festival. 3 p.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25. $59 per person. Vino Venue, 4478 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. 770-668-0435. https://www.vinovenue.com. Walk through this mini-festival to taste regional cuisine and wines from countries including Italy, France, Spain, Greece, Lebanon and Israel. North Fulton Roswell Restaurant Week. Through Wednesday, Jan. 29. Various restaurants in Roswell. http://www.roswellrw.com/. Try a prix fixe menu at your favorite Roswell restaurant or discover a new place to dine. The Beatles & Friends Cartoon Pop Art Show. 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, 1 p.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25 and 1 p.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26. Free admission, with art for purchase. Ann Jackson Gallery, 1101 Alpharetta St., Roswell. 610-389-1807. https://annjacksongallery.com. Enjoy a reception with legendary animator Ron Campbell, the director of the Beatles’ 1960s TV series and animator of the film “Yellow Submarine.” In addition to his Beatles’ work, paintings from other cartoons Campbell worked on, including “Scooby Doo” and “The Flintstones,” are also on display. An online RSVP is strongly suggested. Mommy and Me Giraffes Set. 2 p.m.-3:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25. $25. Painting with a Twist, 11770 Haynes Bridge Road, #801, Alpharetta. 470-294-0051. paintingwithatwist.com. Bring your child age 4 and up along to create a giraffe painting with you. A Night with Jazz. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25. $20 general admission, $15 student/senior/military. Roswell Cultural Arts Center, 950 Forrest St., Roswell. 770-641-3705.  https://ev2.evenue.net. Artists and musicians will celebrate the history of jazz through music, song, storytelling and dance.  » RELATED: 11 ways to celebrate Black History Month in Atlanta Gwinnett Cookies & Cocoa 5K Fun Run. 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 25. $38. Buford High School, 2455 Buford Hwy. NE., Buford. runsignup.com. Run the Cookies & Cocoa 5K, which donates all proceeds to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.  Lincoln’s 3rd Annual Chili Cook Off. 12:30 p.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25. $10 to enter your chili, $15 for all you can eat. The Lincoln Fill Station, 2280 Henry Clower Blvd., Snellville. 678-580-1203. https://www.facebook.com. Enter your chili in the cook off or sample others’ chili masterpieces and vote for your favorite. All money will be donated to charity. Chinese New Year Family Day. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25. Free. Hudgens Center for Art & Learning, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Building 300, Duluth. 770-623-6001. thehudgens.org. Celebrate the Chinese New Year with a family day featuring related crafts you can make. Georgia Bridal Show. noon-5 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26. $10. Infinite Energy Forum, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth. 1-833-WED-SHOW. georgiabridalshow.com. Meet every type of wedding professional you’ll need and get inspiration from a bridal fashion show at 4 p.m. 
  • After signaling an intent to aggressively seek upgrades to a club that won 101 games last season, the Minnesota Twins were passed over in their initial pursuit of top-tier starting pitching. As the grousing from some corners of the fan base grew, the Twins were undeterred. They just doubled down on an already deep lineup and landed a premier slugger and fielder in three-time All-Star third baseman Josh Donaldson. “Our goal was to find a way to impact this team in a significant way and find ways to improve upon a club that we felt was really talented, that had some success last year, but had a chance to continue to take even more steps forward,” said president of baseball operations Derek Falvey. “And as we went through that, there's a really small subset of players in free agency and even through trade that you can acquire that have that kind of impact. And in Josh Donaldson, we most certainly have found that.” Donaldson and the Twins finalized their four-year, $92 million contract Wednesday that is the richest in franchise history for a free agent. Donaldson agreed last week to the deal that includes a club option for a fifth season. The 34-year-old will make $21 million per season. For 2024, the Twins can either retain him for $16 million or buy him out for $8 million. Though Minnesota has never been a destination market, with those frequently cold Aprils clearly a factor, the Twins have forged a solid reputation around the game for their pristine ballpark, family-vibe organization and player-friendly atmosphere in the clubhouse that has only increased under manager Rocco Baldelli. Donaldson, introduced at a news conference at Target Field, said he instructed his agent, Dan Lozano, to inform the Twins at the beginning of the offseason of his interest in joining them. The 2 1/2-hour phone conversation earlier this winter with team officials only piqued his desire. “The message I tried to get across to them was, ‘Look, I don’t want to just impact your team on the field. I want to impact the entire organization,’” the 34-year-old Donaldson said. “This could possibly be my final contract, at some point, and I want to leave an imprint on this organization for whenever I am finished playing.” The deal far surpassed the previous high-dollar mark for Minnesota on the open market, a four-year, $55 million deal for starting pitcher Ervin Santana that began in 2015. The Twins gave then-catcher Joe Mauer an eight-year, $184 million contract in 2010, but that was an in-house extension that kicked in the following season. Though the societal force of instant gratification fueled frustration among fans stinging from an ALDS sweep by the New York Yankees after starting pitchers like Zack Wheeler and Madison Bumgarner picked other teams, Twins leadership has steadfastly praised owner Jim Pohlad for being willing to spend however the front office sees fit. “If e think it’s the right investment, we’re going to go pursue it,' Falvey said. 'If the player wants to come here — we feel we’ve created an attractive environment for players to want to come to — then we can finish it off.” Because Donaldson turned down a $17.8 million qualifying offer from the Braves, the Twins will forfeit their third-round pick in the June amateur draft, No. 101 overall. Atlanta gets a compensation selection, No. 73. Donaldson batted .259 with 33 doubles, 37 home runs, 96 runs, 94 RBIs and 100 walks in 155 games for Atlanta in 2019. The 2015 AL MVP award winner with Toronto, Donaldson will give Baldelli the pleasure of squeezing him into a batting order that established the all-time major league record with 307 homers in 2019. “There were just few players in the game — shoot, since I’ve been in the game — that are as talented, as quality, as well-rounded of a player as Josh is,” Baldelli said. The Twins also pursued Donaldson for his ability to upgrade the infield defense that was a relative weakness last year. His arrival will move Miguel Sanó across the diamond to first base. Donaldson led AL third basemen in putouts in 2013, 2015 and 2016 and was first in assists in 2014. Last season, he was second in the NL in assists and third in putouts. According to the advanced metric defensive runs saved calculated by FanGraphs, Donaldson was second among major league third basemen with 15, behind Oakland's Matt Chapman (18). The next-closest third basemen had eight. Sanó was rated a minus-five. There was also, for both sides, the benefit of Donaldson's history of hitting well at 10-year-old Target Field. In 22 career games, he has batted .373 with seven doubles, 10 homers and 21 RBIs. “For some reason, this stadium sets up well for me. Maybe it’s the background, or whatever its been, I've taken a liking to it,” Donaldson said. ___ More AP MLB coverage: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Marcell Ozuna doesn't have to match his career-best numbers of 2017 or even meet the standards set by Josh Donaldson last season to make the Atlanta Braves feel good about their investment in the outfielder. Ozuna only needs an average season as Atlanta's new cleanup hitter to help the Braves' offense enjoy another productive season. Still, Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos dares to dream that Ozuna's 2020 season will be far more than average. “We'd be happy with what he did the last few years, but we think there's that upside in him to be even better,” Anthopoulos said Tuesday night after the Braves signed Ozuna, one of the top remaining free agents, to the $18 million, one-year deal. With Donaldson hitting cleanup in 2019, the Braves ranked third in the NL and seventh in the majors in runs scored. The Braves made a late bid to re-sign Donaldson, who instead signed a $92 million, four-year deal with Minnesota. Donaldson hit .259 with 37 homers and 94 RBIs in his one season with Atlanta. He provided lineup protection for first baseman Freddie Freeman, who posted career-best power totals with 38 homers and 121 RBIs. The 29-year-old Ozuna hit .241 with 29 home runs and 89 RBIs for St. Louis last season. Anthopoulos believes Ozuna could come close to his career-best season with Miami in 2017, when he hit .312 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs. A repeat of that 2017 production would place Ozuna in position for a bigger free-agent contract next offseason. It also could help the Braves contend for their third straight NL East title. “He's been an elite offensive performer and he's someone we think can get back to that,” Anthopoulos said. “He's still been good the last few years but we think he can take one more step and have the opportunity and the potential to be the guy he was in 2017 with Miami.” There is reason to believe Ozuna's production will improve this season. His career batting average is .272. His average last season was the lowest of his career despite ranking among the major league leaders in the highest percentage of hard-hit balls, according to Statcast. Ozuna played in only 131 games last season but still posted his second-highest totals for homers and RBIs. He missed 28 games in the middle of the season with fractured fingers on his right hand. Ozuna will play left field. Ronald Acuña Jr. also will be a fixture in the outfield, playing either of the other two spots. Anthopoulos said the resulting glut of outfielders — Ender Inciarte, Nick Markakis and Adam Duvall — will be settled this spring. A trade is possible. There could be more competition in the outfield, with two of the team's top prospects — Cristian Pache and Drew Waters — playing that position. Each finished the 2019 season with Triple-A Gwinnett. The one-year deal with Ozuna creates a possible opening for Pache or Waters in 2021. However, Anthopoulos left open the possibility of working out a long-term deal with Ozuna. “I think this is a very good opportunity for him to play to his potential with a good team, a good lineup,' Anthopoulos said. “Obviously, there would be the potential this could be a longer deal over time.” ______ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • A week after losing out on the chance to resign free agent third baseman Josh Donaldson, the Atlanta Braves made a move Tuesday night to add extra power to their offense. The team agreed to a 1-year, $18 million-dollar contract with OF Marcell Ozuna. He played for the Cardinals in 2019 - his second with St. Louis - batting .241 with 29 home runs. Ozuna however, had a great first-round playoff series against the Braves, hitting .429 with 2 home runs against Atlanta in the NLDS. For the 2019 postseason, Ozuna hit .324.  The 29-year-old Ozuna made his major league debut with the Marlins in 2013 - an All Star in the '16 and '17 seasons.
  • The Braves have their clean-up hitter. Marcell Ozuna, who tormented the Braves in the National League Division Series with St. Louis, signed a one-year, $18 million deal, the team announced Tuesday night. He fills the need for a power hitter in the middle of the lineup. Ozuna, 29, has spent the past two seasons with the Cardinals after spending his early career in the National League East with Miami. Ozuna hit .241 with 29 homers and a .800 OPS last season (130 games). He helped the Cardinals win the NL Central and advance to the NL Championship Series, hitting .324 in the postseason. He hit a robust .429 with two homers in the five-game NLDS, where the Cardinals eliminated his new club. Ozuna has earned two All-Star appearances since debuting in 2013. He’s been a potent bat over that span, hitting 23 or more home runs in each of the past four seasons, including a career-best 37 in 2017. He’s collected 124, 88 and 89 RBIs across the past three seasons, respectively. The slugger possesses an ideal resume for the Braves, who were dealt a blow when Donaldson, and his 37 homers and 94 RBIs, departed for Minnesota. Ozuna theoretically replaces a large bulk of Donaldson’s production while only requiring a single-season commitment. While not a highly regarded defender, Ozuna likely plugs into left field. That will directly affect Nick Markakis’ and Adam Duvall’s playing time, given the duo was previously slotted to platoon the position. Ronald Acuna was penciled in right, with Ender Inciarte in left. The Braves are blessed with versatile outfielders, meaning they’ll have plentiful combinations to deploy. But it’s a safe assumption that Acuna and Ozuna will be in the lineup on a nearly every-day basis. An added bonus: The Braves don’t block their top outfield prospects, Cristian Pache and Drew Waters. Both players are expected to debut in the majors this season, but neither will be relied upon on the pennant-hopeful Braves. This article written by Gabriel Burns with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution .
  • The Atlanta Braves found their new cleanup hitter when then reached an agreement with free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna on an $18 million, one-year deal Tuesday. Ozuna joins the team he helped beat in the playoffs last October. He hit .429 with two home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in their five-game win over the Braves in the NL Division Series. “We just focused on the player we thought was the best fit here,” Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. “We were looking for a middle of the order bat.” The 29-year-old Ozuna hit .241 with 29 home runs and 89 RBIs last season. His low batting average was something on an oddity because he ranked among the major league leaders in the highest percentage of hard-hit balls, according to Statcast. Ozuna will be the probable choice to fill the fourth spot in the Braves lineup that was left vacant when third baseman Josh Donaldson signed a $92 million, four-year deal with Minnesota. “The projection is he will bat cleanup for us, but our focus was just on getting good players,” Anthopoulos said. The addition of Ozuna creates a logjam in the Atlanta outfield. Ronald Acuña Jr, Ender Inciarte and Nick Markakis were expected to be the starters. Markakis could have been targeted to share the left field job with Adam Duvall. Anthopoulos said Acuña and Ozuna are “projected as everybody players.' He said the full field with Inciarte, Markakis and Duvall 'will be worked out over the course of the spring.' Anthopoulos said he believes Ozuna can return to the form he showed while with Miami in 2017, when he hit .312 with 37 homers and 124 RBIs — all career highs. “We liked our outfield but we really feel strongly about Ozuna's bat and we think there's a lot more upside than what he showed last year,” Anthopoulos said. “We just thought it would be a really good fit for us and the deal made sense for both sides.” The Ozuna signing also means Johan Camargo and Austin Riley will compete for the starting job at third base unless the Braves make another move. Anthopoulos said Camargo has impressed the team with his “work ethic and conditioning” this offseason. He said Riley has worked on hitting breaking pitches after that weakness cost him playing time following a strong start to his 2019 rookie season. Ozuna is a two-time All-Star who spent his first five seasons with the Marlins, then was traded and played two years in St. Louis. Ozuna's signing leaves infielder-outfielder Nicholas Castellanos as the last remaining major free agent with spring training set to start in about three weeks. The two-time NL East champion Braves have been busy this offseason. On Monday, they signed former AL Cy Young Award winner and longtime Seattle ace Felix Hernández to a minor league with an invite to big league spring training. The Braves also have signed veteran left-hander Cole Hamels to an $18 million, one-year deal to add experience to the rotation. Atlanta signed another left-hander, reliever Will Smith, a possible closer, to a $40 million, three-year contract and added catcher Travis d'Arnaud for a $16 million, two-year deal. Atlanta also has re-signed four players: Markakis, catcher Tyler Flowers and relievers Darren O'Day and Chris Martin. ______ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Longtime Seattle Mariners ace Félix Hernández reached a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves on Monday that includes an invite to big league spring training. The right-hander would get a $1 million, one-year contract if added to Atlanta's 40-man roster. Hernández, who turns 34 in April, is coming off his worst season in the majors. King Felix went 1-8 with a 6.40 ERA in 15 starts for the Mariners and lost his place in the rotation. Hernández was among the best and more durable pitchers in the majors for more than a decade, a stretch that included six All-Star selections and the 2010 AL Cy Young Award. He was a huge crowd favorite at Safeco Field, with fans holding up K cards in The King's Court to mark his many strikeouts. The two-time NL East champion Braves hold their first workout for pitchers and catchers on Feb. 13. ___ More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
  • Felix Hernandez, the former Cy Young award winner, has agreed to a minor league contract with the Braves as a non-roster invitee, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has confirmed. The signing was first reported by the MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. The deal is reportedly worth $1 million should Hernandez make the major league roster. There are no plans for Hernanedez  beyond strictly competing for the fifth starter’s spot in the Braves rotation. Hernandez spent the past 15 seasons with the Mariners after he debuted as a 19-year old in 2005. He won the Cy Young award in 2010. Hernandez, nicknamed “King Felix,” has a career record of 169-136 with a 3.42 ERA and 2,524 strikeouts. He is a six-time All-Star. He did not receive the honor during is Cy Young campaign when he finished 13-12 with a 2.27 ERA and 232 strikeouts. The 33-year-old Hernandez made just 15 starts last season with a 1-8 record and a 6.10 ERA over 71.2 innings.

News

  • A pilot was killed Saturday morning when a small plane crashed into the side of a north Florida home, according to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office. The family inside the home managed to escape the home without injury, the Sheriff’s Office said. A picture a viewer sent to Action News Jax shows the moment when a plane crashed into the front yard of the Lake City home.In the picture, a man in an orange shirt can be seen running across the yard to try to help the pilot, but he had to retreat because the flames were too extensive. Neighbors watched as a ball of fire flared up in their neighbor’s yard. Kristy Amato said she hears many small planes and often worries about them. “I was sitting on my couch watching a movie with my daughter, and I heard a plane take off like all of the planes take off,' Amato told Action News Jax. “Then I heard a backfire, then a loud kaboom, so I ran out front and there was a plane in my neighbor’s yard on fire.” Columbia County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Murray Smith told Action News Jax that after crews put the fire out, the pilot’s body was found underneath debris. “Shortly before 10, we received about 59 911 calls,” Smith told the television station. Smith said he believes the plane was a single-engine aircraft. The National Transportation Safety Board is now working to find out where the Piper PA-32 was going and the name of the pilot who died. Officials believe he was the only person on the plane. “There is an airport nearby, but so many neighbors have come over and gave so many stories, so we’re just going to wait for NTSB to get all of the facts straight,” said Smith. The Federal Aviation Administration and the NTSB are investigating what caused the plane to crash, but the investigation likely won’t be complete for months.
  • Three people — including two teens — are in custody and police are looking for a fourth after an armed robbery at a Sandy Springs jewelry store.  Antonio Collier, 40, Antwan DeKarlos Robinson, 17, and a 16-year-old juvenile were arrested after the incident, which happened about 4:20 p.m. Saturday at a business on Abernathy Road near Roswell Road, officials said.  Witnesses to the robbery and the store owner were able to subdue two of the suspects until police arrived, Channel 2 Action News reported.  Three men walked into the business and tried to steal items from the display case, Sandy Springs police spokesman Sgt. Sam Worsham said.  “They had hammers and were breaking everything and grabbed Rolexes,” a witness told Channel 2.  The owner, who was returning from lunch, saw the robbery in progress, the news station reported. He told Channel 2 he hit the robbers over the head and in the face with a bag full of glass pickle jars.  Two bystanders then tackled one of the suspects, Worsham said.  Two other suspects drove off in a car, he said. The incident turned into a police chase that ended in a crash on Glenridge Road.  One of the suspects was arrested at the scene, and the fourth suspect ran away into a wooded area, Worsham said.  Collier, Robinson, and the juvenile are all charged with armed robbery, possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, felony criminal damage to property, possession of tools for the commission of a crime, obstruction and two counts of battery.  Read the full story from Channel 2 Action News here.
  • Tamra Judge is leaving “The Real Housewives of Orange County” after 12 seasons, the star of the Bravo series said in an Instagram post Saturday. “It’s been a wild 12 years. But it’s time for me to move on,” Judge wrote on Instagram. “I’m sad to go but I’m very excited about my future.” Judge is currently the longest-running full-time cast member in “Housewives” history, People reported. She joined the show during its third season in 2007, according to the magazine. Judge’s announcement comes a day after fellow co-star Vicki Gunvalson also announced she was leaving the reality television show, E! Online reported. Judge said she was looking forward to life after the series. “It’s been a wild ride, and after all these years, I’m looking forward to life away from the cameras,” Judge told People. “I was offered a chance to come back to the show in a limited role, but would prefer to walk away on my own terms.” Judge has been part of the show’s most memorable moments, including the show’s first wine toss, People reported. She also starred in a three-episode spinoff of the series, “Tamra’s OC Wedding,” which documented her June 2013 wedding to Eddie Judge. “I want to thank all the fans who have offered me their support over the years,” she told People. “It’s meant a lot.”
  • Margaret Mackie is not a household name in the music industry, but she’s getting there in a hurry. The 83-year-old dementia patient from Scotland has gone viral on YouTube with her heart-melting duet of “My Way” with her caregiver, Jamie Lee Morley. The pair recorded a single of the song, with proceeds going to Dementia UK and the Alzheimer’s Society. People with elderly parents will have a tough time avoiding the tissues after watching the sweet, sentimental ballad made famous by Frank Sinatra. But Mackie is not ready to face the final curtain just yet. She’s content to keep singing. Morley, a musician who works as a food server at the Northcare Suites Care Home in Edinburgh since it opened last fall, told The Washington Post he was walking past a lounge at the center when he heard a lovely voice singing Elvis Presley’s “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Morley told the newspaper he thought someone had left the radio on, but then he saw Mackie singing the song in perfect pitch. “I was stunned,” Morley, 31, told the Post. “I’ve loved singing and music since I was a little lad, and I could just tell that Margaret did, too. Her voice is amazing.” Morley and Mackie sang “My Way” at the care home’s Christmas party in December, CBS News reported. A video of the duet was posted to YouTube and quickly went viral. “Every day in work we sing this song together and I do whatever I can to brighten her day and all the other residents,” Morley wrote on YouTube. 'For those close to me will know this was my Grandad’s funeral song who our family sadly lost to Alzheimer’s last year. I’ve never really sang this song, as it’s a classic, but I knew how much Margaret and her family would love it.” Mackie’s family attended the Christmas party and enjoyed the duet, CBS News reported. They are even more delighted with the response to the video. “It has brought her back to life. The dementia was taking a hold of her and she was getting sad with it, but this has given her a new lease of life,” Mackie’s daughter, Mairi Hunter, told the BBC. “It’s quite remarkable how she can remember the lyrics. It just seems to come back to her. “She wants everyone to be happy. People cry when they hear the song and she’ll say ‘No don’t cry, I want you to be happy.’” Meanwhile, the recording of “My Way” is No. 6 on the United Kingdom’s Amazon download chart and at one point reached No. 27 on iTunes’ Top 40 in the U.K., the Post reported. That’s ahead of Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande and Ed Sheeran, the newspaper reported. Morley filmed his excursion with Mackie to the recording studio and released the single and a music video to go with it Dec,. 28, CBS News reported. The music video has had nearly 200,000 views since its release. Mackie, a former whiskey distillery worker, rarely remembers one day from the next, the Post reported. She came to Northcare Suites in October from another care center, Jordan Simpson, manager of Northcare Suites, told the newspaper. While Mackie might be forgetful, she never forgets the lyrics to her favorite songs, Simpson said. “Singing is something that makes Margaret happy. She has a great singing voice,” Simpson told the Post. “And although she has dementia, she has a great memory for song lyrics. She and Jamie sing together most of the day.” Mackie said she wouldn’t mind recording another song, and joked about recording an entire album, the BBC reported. “It’s great seeing your face in all those newspapers,” Mackie told the BBC. “It’s nice to have a busy life like that, every now and then.” The single can be purchased on iTunes here.
  • A FedEx driver in upper Michigan went beyond the call of duty while delivering a package Thursday morning. The delivery man was dropping off a package for Jodi LaFreniere in Manistique around 11:42 a.m., WLUC reported. Instead of just leaving the package on the snowy stoop, the delivery man grabbed a shovel and cleared off the area, the television station reported. “Shout out to this guy! He shoveled my stoop while I was gone,” LaFreniere wrote on Facebook. LaFreniere, who is a kindergarten teacher, told WLUC she received an alert on her phone from her doorbell camera. When she checked the video, she saw the delivery man shoveling off her porch. “I was wondering who was at my house since my fiance was away in Alaska, teaching,” LaFreniere told CNN. LaFreniere hadn’t spoken to the delivery driver -- Melvin J. Marlett, who has worked for FedEx for 23 years -- but said her fiance, Rodney Riesland, has spoken with him since he is usually home when deliveries are made, CNN reported. “There are good people out there who do selfless acts,” LaFreniere told WLUC. LaFreniere decided to post the video to Facebook as a way of saying thanks. “FedEx is proud of the many contributions our team members make to the communities we serve every day,” FedEx spokeswoman Heather Wilson told CNN. “We commend our courier, Mel Marlett, who went above and beyond to help shovel snow for our customer while making a delivery.” Marlett told CNN he thought shoveling the snow was the right thing to do. “I would hope it’s something that anybody would have done,” Marlett told the cable network. “If you take care of your customers, they take care of you.”
  • Sophie Yazzie, the longest-living veteran in Arizona and a member of the Navajo Nation, died Saturday. She was 105. Yazzie died at her Tucson home, according to Facebook posts by Women Warriors and the Arizona Department of Veterans’ Services. Yazzie, who was born in Canyon de Chelly in 1914, enlisted in the Army when he was 28 and served during World War II, KPNX reported. She was a Women’s Army Corps Technician Grade 4 and was honorably discharged after the war, according to Navajo Times. Yazzie graduated from Wingate Boarding School in 1934, the website reported. She returned to her alma mater after the war and worked there until she retired at 70, KPNX reported. Wanda Wright, the director of the Arizona Department of Veterans Services, released a message of condolences, KNXV reported. “I am blessed to have met Sophie and hear about her service to our country. Last summer we were honored to be able to present Sophie with Governor Ducey’s Arizona Women Veteran’s Week proclamation,' Wright said. 'We send our deepest condolences to her family and friends, and will always remember her legacy.” Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey tweeted a tribute to Yazzie on Saturday afternoon. She had four children, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.