ATLANTA -- After bolstering their rotation and opting to bring Marcell Ozuna back, the Braves are ready to pursue a fourth consecutive National League East title. They opened Spring Training when pitchers and catchers reported to their complex in North Port, Fla., on Wednesday.
Here are some of the top questions you might have about the Braves:
When is the first Spring Training game?
The Braves will open the Grapefruit League season on Feb. 28, when they play the Rays in Port Charlotte. Cristian Pache, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the club's top prospect, should get plenty of playing time this spring as he attempts to prove he’s ready to be Atlanta’s everyday center fielder.
How can I watch or listen to all Spring Training games?
A list of televised games will be announced at a later date. Braves.com will provide a live audio feed of every game. Weekday games will be broadcast on Atlanta’s 1230 AM and 106.3 FM. All weekend games will be broadcast on 680 The Fan, 93.7 FM and other affiliates of the Braves Radio Network.
Can fans attend Spring Training games?
The Braves are expected to allow up to 1,800 fans for every home game played at CoolToday Park. Until season ticket holders are given their priority, it is not known how many individual tickets will be made available.
When is Opening Day?
After finishing a 29-game Grapefruit League schedule on March 30, the Braves will travel to Philadelphia for an Opening Day game on April 1 against the Phillies.
When is the home opener?
After playing three-game series in Philadelphia and Washington, the Braves will play their home opener against the Phillies on April 9 at 7:20 p.m. ET. It will be their first night game of the year. Ticket information for all games at Truist Park is available at braves.com.
Who were the key additions and losses of the offseason?
The Braves strengthened their rotation with the short-term deals they struck with Charlie Morton (one year, $15 million) and Drew Smyly (one year, $11 million) in November. They then satisfied their need for a power hitter by re-signing Ozuna to a four-year, $65 million deal.
Key players lost during the winter included former closer Mark Melancon, who signed a one-year deal with the Padres, and outfielder Adam Duvall, who signed with the Marlins after being non-tendered in December. The Braves will also need to address the absences of veteran relievers Darren O’Day, who signed with the Yankees, and Shane Greene, who remains a free agent.
What’s the story with Mike Soroka and when will he be back?
Right-hander Mike Soroka will be nearly eight months removed from a torn right Achilles tendon when the season begins. He has aimed to be ready for Opening Day, and the Braves have not officially ruled out the possibility. But it might be in the young hurler’s best long-term interests to pace himself throughout Spring Training and possibly join Atlanta’s rotation a few weeks into the regular season.
Who is the likely Opening Day starting pitcher?
If Soroka doesn’t get the honor for a second straight year, the club could reward Max Fried for his contributions last year. But it might make more sense to allow Morton to immediately begin his assignment as the rotation’s veteran leader.
Who are some prospects to keep an eye on in camp?
Pache will draw most of the attention as the Braves will bring 13 of their top 15 prospects to camp. Four of those players -- Pache (No. 12), right-hander Ian Anderson (No. 18), outfielder Drew Waters (No. 35) and catcher Shea Langeliers (No. 73) -- all rank among MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 prospects. Pache will compete for the starting center-field spot, and Anderson will return to the rotation spot he earned last year. While Waters will attempt to show how close he is to being Major League ready, Langeliers and William Contreras will resume their battle to be the club’s catcher of the future.
What are the key roster and position battles to watch?
Pache will battle Ender Inciarte for the starting job in center field. If Pache gets the job, Inciarte will become an expensive fourth outfielder, whose primary duty will be to serve as a late-inning defensive replacement for Ozuna in left field.
If Soroka does indeed begin the season on the injured list, Kyle Wright and Bryse Wilson are the top candidates for the final rotation spot. Wright made great strides late last year. But Wilson earned a lot of respect with the gem he tossed against the Dodgers in Game 4 of the National League Championship Series. This truly might come down to which of these guys creates the most confidence during camp.
If the Braves do not bring Tyler Flowers back or add another catcher, they will need to decide whether to give the backup catching duties to Alex Jackson or Contreras, who are both on the 40-man roster. Jackson could get the nod, given the potential value of giving Contreras more time to develop as an everyday player at the Minor League level.