Notes: Greene eyes World Series; Félix throws

February 19th, 2020

NORTH PORT, Fla. -- It’s no big secret that the Braves are focused on a singular goal this season: the World Series. It’s such an important destination that reliever mentioned it four times in less than a minute during a chat with reporters on Wednesday morning.

Strengthening the bullpen was a big offseason to-do checked off in Atlanta, and now it’s hard not to be optimistic. Barring injury, Greene will be right in the mix.

“On paper, we can compete with anybody,” he said Wednesday. “The guys in the bullpen, we’ll be ready to go. We also have a really good starting five, and I think that goes a long way as well. When you’ve got guys going deep into ballgames … it saves us so that we can be strong down the stretch.”

Greene saved 22 of 25 opportunities for the Tigers in 2019, and he finished with a 4.01 ERA with in 27 games (24 2/3 innings) with the Braves last season after he was traded July 31. The right-hander pads a relief corps overflowing with arms such as Mark Melancon, Luke Jackson, Darren O’Day and Chris Martin, who combined for a 3.78 ERA in 116 2/3 innings last season.

Left-hander Will Smith signed with Atlanta on Nov. 14 after converting 34-of-38 save opportunities for the Giants last season, posting a 2.76 ERA in 65 1/3 innings (63 appearances) and earning his first All-Star selection. There are also a myriad of arms this spring that will fight for innings, including Jacob Webb, Josh Tomlin, Chris Rusin, Grant Dayton, A.J. Minter, Patrick Weigel, Huascar Ynoa, Bryse Wilson and Philip Pfeifer.

“My goal is to win a World Series,” Greene said. “Coming into a locker room with the talent that this locker room has, and obviously seeing what we did last year in the short time that I was here, knowing that there’s a real chance that we can do it, it’s exciting.”

King Félix takes the mound

wasted no time during his first live batting practice session refreshing hitters on how he earned his nickname. Though pitchers are naturally farther along than the hitters who haven’t seen live pitching in nearly five months, Braves manager Brian Snitker was pleased to see Hernández’s work.

The 33-year-old righty, who has 2,524 career strikeouts in his 15-year career, faced a batting practice group that included 20-something phenoms Ronald Acuña Jr. and Ozzie Albies.

“He’s a good one for [the younger guys] to hit off of; he knows where he’s going,” Snitker said. “He looked in great shape. Guys like that, they get this opportunity, and I think they’re going to give it everything they got. They’re going to come and leave no stone unturned.”

Hernández is one of the Braves’ 26 non-roster invitees this spring vying for a spot on the roster. The Cy Young Award winner signed a Minor League deal on Jan. 22 and will receive a $1 million salary if he breaks camp with Atlanta.