LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When David Carpenter signed a Minor League deal with the Braves, he looked forward to getting the chance to prove he was healthy enough to be an effective reliever within a familiar environment. But less than one week into the Grapefruit League season, Carpenter is
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- When David Carpenter signed a Minor League deal with the Braves, he looked forward to getting the chance to prove he was healthy enough to be an effective reliever within a familiar environment. But less than one week into the Grapefruit League season, Carpenter is now looking for a new employer.
As the Braves began clearing out their crowded clubhouse on Saturday morning, Carpenter received the surprising news that he had been released. The 30-year-old veteran was one of the many non-roster invitees who came to camp confident about the prospect of gaining a spot on Atlanta's Opening Day roster.
"It stings, especially being back around some familiar faces with some guys that I had some really good times with, on the [coaching staff] and still on the team," Carpenter said. "But in the same light, thankfully, this will give me an opportunity to go somewhere and try to make a big league club."
With Saturday's other roster moves the Braves reassigned outfielders Braxton Davidson and Matt Tuiasosopo and catchers Matt Kennelly, Joseph Odom and Braeden Schlehuber to Minor League camp. Right-handed reliever Ryan Kelly, like Carpenter, was given his unconditional release.
Davidson, a first-round selection in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft, came to his first big league camp knowing that the experience might be a short one. But Carpenter was confident he could win one of the available spots in the Atlanta bullpen that he had inhabited from 2013-14.
Unfortunately for Carpenter, he became the first roster casualty among the many non-roster veterans who came to camp with a legitimate shot at being on Atlanta's Opening Day roster. This group also includes outfielder Jeff Francoeur, starting pitchers Kyle Kendrick and Jhoulys Chacin and relievers Alexi Ogando, Alex Torres and Carlos Torres.
The Braves have one open spot on the 40-man roster. But they will have to create some room if they choose to carry a few of these non-roster veterans, including Ogando, who might be a more attractive option to carry as a right-handed middle reliever than Carpenter.
Bullpen decisions will also be influenced by the fact that the Braves have two Rule 5 Draft candidates -- left-hander Evan Rutckyj and right-hander Daniel Winkler -- who have to be on the Opening Day roster or be offered back to their respective former teams.
"They've got to make decisions that are best for the Atlanta Braves and I understand that," Carpenter said. "But I also appreciate that they're trying to think of me with this."
After Eric O'Flaherty and Jonny Venters underwent Tommy John surgery in 2013, Carpenter softened the blow as he established himself as a reliable bullpen option, and he eventually became closer Craig Kimbrel's primary setup man. Unfortunately, this positioned him to become known as the guy who surrendered the Juan Uribe home run as Kimbrel watched from the bullpen during the eighth inning of Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Dodgers that year.
Carpenter struggled after being traded to the Yankees last year and then encountered shoulder soreness after he signed midseason with the Nationals. He has felt healthy through the early portion of Spring Training, and he retired the only three batters he faced in Grapefruit League action, after being rushed into Thursday's game because Andrew McKirahan exited with left forearm discomfort.
"I think I showed here that I'm healthy, and that everything is going well," Carpenter said. "I wish [the Braves] luck. I've always been treated well here. It stinks not being around a lot of the guys. But that's the game we play and the life we have chosen."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com.