Braves still seeking lefty relief help

Sent to Minors camp, Cervenka could fill bullpen role

March 25th, 2016
Hunter Cervenka issued a walk and did not allow a hit while facing eight left-handed hitters. (AP)

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- At some point over the past month, the Braves have auditioned at least five left-handed relievers who have possessed a legitimate hope to gain a spot on the club's Opening Day roster. But the organization will likely spend Spring Training's final week looking for yet another candidate.

The Braves would like to carry two left-handed relievers, and as things currently stand, non-roster invitee Alex Torres appears to be the only southpaw candidate positioned to be in Atlanta' bullpen when the regular season begins.

When the Braves acquired Ian Krol via the financially-influenced November trade that sent Cameron Maybin to the Tigers, Atlanta was hoping he would begin the season as one of its lefty relievers. But this plan has seemingly evaporated as Krol has issued four walks, surrendered nine hits and allowed eight earned runs over 5 2/3 innings during the Grapefruit League season.

As Krol has significantly weakened his roster bid, the Braves have gained reason to evaluate other veteran left-handed relievers like Neal Cotts, who was released by the Astros on Friday. Atlanta will also keep an eye on some other roster battles, including the one involving former Brave Eric O'Flaherty and Cory Luebke, a pair of southpaws attempting to gain a spot in Pittsburgh's bullpen.

The Braves might also be tempted to re-evaluate Hunter Cervenka, a left-hander that they sent to Minor League camp last week. Cervenka issued a walk and did not allow a hit while facing eight left-handed hitters in Grapefruit League play this year.

Though Matt Marksberry was a member of Atlanta's bullpen during last season's final two months, the Braves proved they want him to gain some more development when they optioned him to Double-A Mississippi earlier this month.

Evan Rutckyj was another left-handed reliever who came to camp with the hope to begin this season with Atlanta. But inconsistent command led the Braves to send the Rule 5 Draft selection back to the Yankees last week.