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Notes: Albies' antics; rotation taking shape?

@mlbbowman
July 14, 2020

ATLANTA -- Ozzie Albies has spent the past week reminding us that his talents and high-energy personality give him the potential to be one of baseball’s most exciting and entertaining players for many years to come. “I don’t know anybody who has any more fun playing baseball than that kid,”

ATLANTA -- Ozzie Albies has spent the past week reminding us that his talents and high-energy personality give him the potential to be one of baseball’s most exciting and entertaining players for many years to come.

“I don’t know anybody who has any more fun playing baseball than that kid,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “It’s just what he does. He’s a joy to be around.”

Ronald Acuña Jr. and Albies have spent the past couple years entertaining Braves fans with both their production and youthful antics. Best of friends since their early days at the Minor League level, they have seemingly mastered the art of getting on each other’s nerves in a playful manner.

Social distancing will limit their antics this year. But baseball's altered landscape will not prevent them from continuing to exchange verbal jabs, much like those Albies delivered after getting the best of Acuña a couple times on Tuesday.

Albies singled off Bryse Wilson in the first inning and advanced to third base on Marcell Ozuna’s single. When Austin Riley followed with a pop fly that Acuña caught in shallow center field, there was no doubt what was going to happen.

Yep. Albies tagged and scored ahead of Acuña’s throw. The young second baseman then looked toward center field to taunt Acuña.

Albies was able to deliver some more smack talk a couple innings later when his homer off Chris Rusin sailed over Acuña’s head in center field.

“It’s always fun to watch Ozzie play baseball,” Snitker said. “If you play the game like Ozzie, you’re going to play it right.”

Albies’ career statistics include a .279 batting average, 54 homers and a .806 OPS. Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray are the only other switch-hitters to hit .275 with at least 50 homers and a .800 OPS through the first three years of their career at age 22 or younger.

Rotation plans
Other than announcing Mike Soroka will make his first Opening Day start, Snitker has not confirmed any of his rotation plans for the regular season. But when asked if this week’s arrangement of starters should provide a clue, he smirked and said, “Do the math.”

So it looks like Soroka, Max Fried and Mike Foltynewicz will serve as the starting pitchers for the season’s first three games, which will be played July 24-26 against the Mets at Citi Field. Atlanta will then travel to St. Petersburg for a two-game series that will be played on July 27 and 28.

Sean Newcomb will likely get the start in the series opener against the Rays. With uncertainty about Cole Hamels’ status, Kyle Wright, Josh Tomlin or possibly rising prospect Tucker Davidson could get the start in the fifth game.

Snitker will have a right-left-right-left mix if Soroka, Fried, Foltynewicz and Newcomb are indeed the first four starters used this season.

Pache update
Cristian Pache was scratched from Tuesday night’s game because he arrived at the ballpark with his right ankle more swollen than expected. The Braves' top prospect injured the ankle when he slid late while attempting to steal second base in Monday night’s game.

“Hopefully, he can get a little treatment and stay off it,” Snitker said. “It will be a day-to-day thing.”

Pache is baseball’s No. 13 prospect per MLB Pipeline. He is not projected to be on the Opening Day roster, but there’s a chance the talented center fielder could make his MLB debut at some point this year.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.