Spring FAQ: Braves heading south

February 8th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Mark Bowman’s Braves Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

Whether your team won the World Series or experienced a disappointing campaign the previous season, you look forward to this time of year. The end of winter brings hope for the summer ahead.

With the Braves set to welcome pitchers and catchers to Spring Training next week, here are answers to some questions you might have regarding the 2024 camp:

When is the first workout for pitchers and catchers?

Braves pitchers and catchers will report to camp by Wednesday and then stage their first official workout the following day. “Pitchers and catchers report” will always be magical words for baseball fans. But the truth is, pitchers, catchers and position players seem to arrive earlier and earlier every year. Might have something to do with these Spring Training facilities now having the same amenities of a five-star resort.

What is the date of the first full-squad workout?

Early arriving position players will take batting practice and participate in other informal workouts. But some of the organized offensive and defensive drills will not occur before the Braves hold their first full-squad workout on Feb. 20.

Where is the Braves’ facility?

North Port, Fla., is a fast-growing city filled with beautiful new neighborhoods like West Villages, which surrounds CoolToday Park. The facility is approximately 40 minutes south of Sarasota and an hour north of Fort Myers.

Can fans attend workouts?

Fans will have access to the back fields beginning Feb. 18 at 9 a.m. ET. Entry will be granted through Gate 3 or the Green Gate before games begin. The Green Gate will be the only entry point for the back fields on the days the Braves are playing a Grapefruit League game on the main field.

Who are some new faces?

Jarred Kelenic and Chris Sale will be the newcomers who draw the most attention. Kelenic became the team’s left fielder when he was acquired from the Mariners in December. He is a former top prospect who could benefit from a change of scenery. Sale’s status as one of the game’s top starting pitchers was erased as he battled multiple ailments over the past few years. But the Braves believe the 34-year-old left-hander can still be a difference-maker in their rotation.

Reynaldo López and Aaron Bummer are relievers who could bolster what has the makings to be a strong bullpen.

Who are some of the top prospects invited to Major League camp?

Starting pitcher AJ Smith-Shawver, ranked by MLB Pipeline as the organization’s top prospect, rose to the Majors last year and showed how valuable his strong right arm could be for many years to come. This year’s prospect fascination will center on No. 2 prospect Hurston Waldrep, the Braves’ 2023 first-round Draft pick. The right-hander is less than a full calendar year removed from helping the University of Florida reach the College World Series finals. But there’s a chance he, too, could join Atlanta’s rotation at some point this year.

When is the Braves’ first Grapefruit League game?

The Braves will open the Grapefruit League schedule at 1:05 p.m. on Feb. 24, with what is essentially a cross-town matchup against the Rays in Port Charlotte, which is adjacent to Englewood, the quiet beach town where some of the Braves have stayed during Spring Training.

What are a few other notable spring games?

The Red Sox will visit CoolToday Park on Feb. 25 and March 17. Other visitors include the Orioles (Feb. 26, March 1, March 9), the Phillies (March 3) and the Yankees (March 21)

What is the Spring Breakout and when is the Braves’ game?

To give fans a better feel for some of the game’s future stars, games pitting top prospects from opposing teams will be played during March’s third weekend. Smith-Shawver and Waldrep might be among the players the Braves send to Fort Myers to play Boston’s top prospects on March 16.

Will the Braves’ games be televised?

A full list of televised games will be announced at a later date. Brandon Gaudin and C.J. Nitkowski are currently scheduled to call each of the Braves’ final four home games: vs. Blue Jays (March 20), vs. Yankees (March 21) vs. Rays (March 23), vs. Twins (March 25).

When is the club’s last game in Florida?

The Braves will conclude their Grapefruit League schedule with a March 26 game against the Twins in Fort Myers.

What are the details for Opening Day?

The Braves will open the 2024 regular season where their past two seasons ended. They face the Phillies at 3:05 p.m. ET on March 28 at Citizens Bank Park.