LAKELAND, Fla. -- Looking to add defensive versatility to their bench, the Braves are attempting to complete a deal with veteran utility man Ryan Flaherty.A Major League source said as of Sunday afternoon that Flaherty and the Braves were moving toward the final stages of completing a Major League deal
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Looking to add defensive versatility to their bench, the Braves are attempting to complete a deal with veteran utility man Ryan Flaherty.
A Major League source said as of Sunday afternoon that Flaherty and the Braves were moving toward the final stages of completing a Major League deal that would be pending the results of a physical.
Braves officials did not comment on the potential deal after Sunday's 10-3 loss to the Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Flaherty opted out of his Minor League deal with the Phillies last week. The 31-year-old veteran hit .215 and compiled a .639 OPS in 1,270 plate appearances for the Orioles over the past six seasons. He has played at least 20 games at each of the infield positions and can be utilized as an outfielder if necessary.
Since learning that third baseman Johan Camargo would start this season on the disabled list with discomfort near his right oblique muscle, the Braves have realized how thin they are in the backup-infielder department.
Rio Ruiz is currently slated to serve as the primary third baseman in Camargo's absence. Charlie Culberson is the only true backup infielder currently projected to be on Atlanta's Opening Day roster. Non-roster invitee Danny Santana can be used as an infielder when necessary, but he has spent most of the past two seasons as an outfielder.
The Braves had discussed the possibility of carrying either six outfielders (Santana included) or three catchers as their extra position player until there is a need to carry five starting pitchers. Flaherty's arrival would likely erase both of these options.
A valuable reminder
Mike Foltynewicz developed a more compact windup to help slow him down by reducing the number of moving body parts. Mentally, he has made strides over the past year. But as he completed his final inning during an otherwise stellar spring, he was reminded he still has a tendency to speed things up when he encounters trouble.
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Foltynewicz surrendered four hits and did not allow a run through his first 15 innings of the Grapefruit League season. But as he attempted to complete three innings during his final tune-up on Sunday, the talented right-hander allowed the Tigers to tally seven straight hits to begin a six-run second inning.
"I wish I could have ended it a little better going into the season," Foltynewicz said. "I'll just throw this one into the garbage a little bit. I threw some good pitches. Some of the fastballs were up a little bit and led to bloopers up the middle. But the ones they hit hard were right over the middle."
Foltynewicz surrendered three soft singles to open the frame and then compounded his troubles by missing his spot on pitches to Leonys Martin and Jeimer Candelario, who highlighted the inning with consecutive RBI doubles. He said he wasn't bothered by the fact that Tuesday's off-day forced him to make this final tune-up with three days of rest after he pitched a Minors game on Wednesday.
"It was a very humbling experience out there," Foltynewicz said. "You have to work hard and focus more, especially when you're facing Opening Day lineups and they're ready to go. That's going to be every team this year. We've just got to slow things down and get things under control the next time out."
Entering Sunday, Shane Carle moved into good position to claim one of the two available bullpen spots. But he allowed five hits and two runs over 2 2/3 innings on Sunday, perhaps prompting the Braves to keep evaluating relievers who might become available over the next couple days.
The Braves are not required to submit their Opening Day roster until Wednesday. As of now, their projected eight-man bullpen consists of Arodys Vizcaino, A.J. Minter, Jose Ramirez, Sam Freeman, Peter Moylan, Dan Winkler, Rex Brothers and Carle.
But as the pursuit of Flaherty proved, the Braves are still in the midst of evaluating external options.
"We'll keep evaluating and see because something could change tonight, tomorrow or the next day," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "We have plans, but until it's done, it won't be."
Brandon McCarthy will take the mound when the Braves host the Yankees at SunTrust Park on Monday night. Freddie Freeman and most of the team's regulars are expected to be in the lineup as the team plays in Atlanta for the first time this year. First pitch is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. ET. The game will air live on MLB.TV.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.