LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Aaron Blair will have to wait a few more days before attempting to further refine the slider that has made him a more intriguing option if there's a need to fill a spot in Atlanta's rotation at some point this year.Blair provided a brief scare
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Aaron Blair will have to wait a few more days before attempting to further refine the slider that has made him a more intriguing option if there's a need to fill a spot in Atlanta's rotation at some point this year.
Blair provided a brief scare when he faced just one batter before exiting Saturday's start against the Phillies at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Fla. But the Braves quickly announced he made a precautionary exit after his left hand was bruised by Cesar Hernandez's comebacker to the mound.
While the Braves will further evaluate Blair over the next couple days, there is seemingly a chance he won't miss any further time with this non-pitching-hand ailment. But it was unfortunate for him to suffer the injury on a day when he was given a chance to start a split-squad game.
Blair stood as one of Atlanta's top prospects after he was acquired from the D-backs in the Shelby Miller trade that also brought Dansby Swanson and Ender Inciarte to Atlanta. But after he posted a 7.59 ERA in 15 Major League starts, the Braves opted to revamp their rotation with the offseason addition of three veterans -- R.A. Dickey, Bartolo Colon and Jaime Garcia.
Blair showed some promise when he finally found a feel for his slider as he notched 10 strikeouts against the Tigers during last season's final start. Now armed with something more than a fastball, changeup and what was a below-average curveball, he'd likely be the first option to promote from Triple-A Gwinnett if Atlanta has a rotation need.
Odds and ends
• Tyler Flowers served as R.A. Dickey's catcher for the first time during the split-squad 8-6 loss to the Marlins at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex on Saturday. Kurt Suzuki might prove to be Dickey's primary catcher during the regular season, but Flowers will get more work with the knuckleballer before the end of Spring Training.
• Braves manager Brian Snitker said Rule 5 selection Armando Rivero was cleared to continue playing catch after he was examined by the Braves' medical staff on Saturday. Rivero has felt tightness around his right shoulder, but there have been no signs he is dealing with structural damage.
• Highly regarded pitching prospect Max Fried (ranked No. 9 on the Braves' top 30 prospects list by MLBPipeline.com) recorded a pair of strikeouts and pitched around two walks while completing two scoreless innings during the split-squad game against the Marlins. Fried has worked three scoreless innings thus far this spring.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.