Adding Joyce may be a hint on Duvall choice

Tomlin auditions; injured pitchers make progress; bye to Wide World

March 23rd, 2019

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Adam Duvall's tenure with Atlanta became more uncertain Saturday, when the Braves acquired Matt Joyce from the Giants for cash considerations.

Joyce does not necessarily stand as an obvious upgrade as he prepares to join his third organization since the start of Spring Training. But his addition may indicate which way the Braves are leaning concerning a $2 million decision they must make regarding Duvall.

If Duvall is placed on the Opening Day roster, his $2.875 million would be guaranteed. But if the veteran outfielder is released before being placed on the active roster, the Braves would be responsible for just 45 days' worth of termination pay, or approximately $690,000.

Duvall snapped an 0-for-15 skid with a pair of hits on Thursday in an 8-1 Braves loss to Tampa Bay, but he has hit .171 (7-for-41) and tallied just two extra-base hits (a two-homer game on March 3) during the Grapefruit League season. Spring Training stats might not matter to some. But this does not necessarily apply to a 30-year-old outfielder, who produced a .344 OPS over 57 plate appearances with Atlanta last year and then came to this year's camp attached to a potential cost savings.

When Joyce was released by the Indians Wednesday, he signed a Minor League deal with the Giants, who then decided to go in another direction after just a few days. The 34-year-old outfielder will audition for a spot on the Braves' Opening Day roster over the next three days.

"We'll just have to see how it all shakes out," Braves manager Brian Snitker said.

While there's a chance Joyce could earn a spot on Atlanta's Opening Day roster, he told the Braves he would be willing to begin the regular season with Triple-A Gwinnett.

Joyce tallied a career-high 25 homers and produced a .808 OPS for the A's in 2017. But he battled a lumbar strain as he homered just eight times while constructing a .675 OPS over just 83 games last year. He went 7-for-35 with no extra-base hits while playing for the Indians and Giants this spring.

Another brief audition

As the Braves evaluated some of their other roster decisions they got their first look at newly acquired Josh Tomlin during Saturday's 12-2 loss to the Mets. Tomlin surrendered a couple of hits and an unearned run in the first inning, but completed his three-inning stint without further damage.

Tomlin signed a Minor League deal after being released by the Brewers earlier this week. The veteran right-hander will either be used as a long reliever at the Major League level or as a starter for Triple-A Gwinnett. He's essentially in the same position Anibal Sanchez was at this point last year.

"There's no guarantees in this game," Tomlin said. "The game has obviously gotten a lot younger over the years. My job is to go get outs when my name is called. If it blossoms into something cool, then great."

If the Braves don't carry Tomlin or another veteran who could be added within the next couple of days, they could give the long relief role to Wes Parsons, who has capably handled a few multi-inning assignments this spring while not allowing a run over 13 1/3 innings.

Rehab updates

All of the Braves pitchers expected to begin the season on the injured list will take another step with their respective recoveries on Sunday.

Mike Foltynewicz will throw live batting practice. This will be the first time he's faced hitters since his right elbow began bothering him after his Feb. 24 spring debut.

A.J. Minter is scheduled to throw an inning in a Minor League game. This will be the lefty reliever’s first appearance since he faced just one batter before exiting his March 1 spring debut with a tight left shoulder.

Kevin Gausman will start Sunday's game against the Rays. Gausman is scheduled to throw approximately 75 pitches. The right-hander, who was slowed by a sore right shoulder, likely will need to make one more start before possibly joining the Braves' rotation during the regular season's first week.

Darren O'Day will begin throwing for the first time since experiencing right forearm discomfort following his March 1 spring debut.

Thanks for the memories

Saturday’s game was the last for the Braves at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex, which had served as the team’s Spring Training home since 1998.

"When we came here, this was like La La Land," Snitker said. "There were a lot of good Spring Training memories here."

Up next

Freddie Freeman, Ronald Acuna Jr. and most of the Braves regulars are expected to be in the lineup when the team plays the Rays on Sunday in North Port. This will be Atlanta's first game at their new Spring Training facility, which will be fully used next year.